Final plea reached in ‘shock collar’ case

Published 5:29 pm Tuesday, December 3, 2019

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The long and winding road leading to a final conviction in the ‘shock collar’ case has apparently come to its end. The case became a national media sensation as the sordid details of alleged shock by dog collar and incest were made public.

Wayne Burkhart pleaded guilty on Monday – just one day shy of his newest trial date – to 3 counts of rape, 3 counts of aggravated child abuse and 3 counts of incest stemming from accusations brought against him by his then juvenile daughter.

Burkhart was sentenced by Circuit/Criminal Court judge Don Ash to an effective 17 years confinement with credit for approximately 9 years of jail time already served.

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Burkhart was initially convicted in 2008, but the conviction was set aside in 2016, by agreement with the state. The case effectively backtracked to ‘square one’ when Claiborne Criminal Court Judge Shayne Sexton overturned the verdict and remanded Burkhart back to jail under an initial $500,000 bond.

The bond was later reduced to $100,000.

The Grand Jury first indicted Burkhart in December 2007 on 41 counts. The true bill included five counts of aggravated child abuse, 14 counts of rape and 14 counts of incest.

He was initially convicted and sentenced to 70 years in prison. The sentence was later reduced to 50 years.

Burkhart filed an appeal in January 2011, charging the sufficiency of the convicting evidence, the denial for a mistrial and the use of consecutive sentencing when determining the length of his prison term.

The appellate court upheld the ruling, however.

Assistant attorney general Graham Wilson said in an interview on Tuesday that the Office of the 8th Judicial District took into consideration three factors in this case when deciding whether to move forward with a plea agreement.

The first was the wishes of the victim. The second was inherent risks to upholding a conviction at trial.

“We also weighed whether pleading this case would be a responsible conviction. We believe it is,” said Wilson.