When in doubt blame the victim

Posted: Dec 14, 2005 12:05 AM

William Burden’s just an unlucky guy.  It was bad luck that he was caught by an armed citizen when he was trying to rob a home in Upper Deerfield, New Jersey.  It was bad luck that police have been able to tie him to a string of other crimes in southern New Jersey in 2002 and 2003.  And it’s just his bad luck that’s led to a sentence of 20 to 30 years for those crimes.

Clearly, the crimes William Burden committed are not his fault.  At least, that’s what William Burden believes.  He recently told a court that the people to blame are his victims, saying “I wish they had answered the door.  Had they done that, me and my boy would have gone on our way." 

The “they” in this case are Robert and Wanda DuBois, who made the mistake of not answering their door to two strangers on July 4th, 2003.  Because they didn’t answer the door, Burden and his accomplish had no choice but to break down the front door of the DuBois residence.    Had the DuBois family simply have opened that door, William Burden’s life would be different.

 "Maybe it wouldn't have brought down all these other burglaries and stuff I didn't commit on me," says Burden. "Not to minimize what I did, but I'm going through a terrible situation because of all these charges I'm facing." 

Cry me a river, William.  It takes an incredible lack of intelligence, coupled with an unbelievable amount of arrogance to hold the victims of your crime responsible for your actions.  As the judge in the case pointed out, this wasn’t a case of simple burglary. 

The telephone lines leading into the home had been cut, presumably by Burden.  Burden and his accomplice are also facing charges from two home invasions in which the elderly homeowners were shot.  Superior Court Judge Timothy Farrell told the court, "Had not Mr. DuBois fired his weapon, we might be here for a very different kind of offense.  I don't buy Mr. Burden's story that he would have just gone away."

Robert DuBois defended himself against Burden and his accomplice with his own handgun. 

He now has the satisfaction of seeing his would be robber sentenced to ten years in prison.  And he’s got a message for those who would try to rob him now, telling the Daily Journal newspaper, “I think Mr. Burden and all the career criminals ought to get new jobs.  It gets dangerous when you try and do what he did out where I live."

It was William Burden’s bad luck that led him to try to rob an armed citizen, and it was Robert DuBois’ good sense that allowed his family to survive the encounter with a criminal.

In a perfect world, this would be the end of the story.  But there’s something else about this case that needs to be pointed out.  William Burden should have been in prison on July 4th, 2003.  That he was not paints a disturbing picture of a “revolving door of justice” in the Garden State.  Consider this:  Burden’s been arrested 28 times since 1992.  He’s been convicted of 11 “serious crimes”, according to Assistant Prosecutor John Jesperson.  Yet he was still out on the street (and eventually in the DuBois home) on July 4th, 2003.  And only now are prosecutors suggesting Burden may be a career criminal. 

 Jesperson told the Vineland Daily Journal, "It is obvious by his prior record that all attempts at rehabilitation have failed.  I'm sorry to say that all that is left to do is warehouse Mr. Burden."  Pardon me for asking, but couldn’t you have figured this out after the fifth arrest?  How about arrest number seven? 

Some states have a “three strikes” policy.  In southern New Jersey, it appears, it’s more of a “twelve strikes” rule of thumb.  This isn’t leniency, it’s idiocy.  Is there any reason for someone to even have the chance to be convicted of 11 serious crimes in 13 years?  Why wasn’t Burden in prison? 

The William Burdens of the world are benefiting from the stupidity of the system.  Burden’s not an unlucky guy for picking the wrong victim.  He’s a lucky guy to get nearly a dozen chances to go straight.  His recent comments blaming the DuBois’ for his troubles indicate he never learned his lesson.  Perhaps it’s time for New Jersey to start keeping criminals behind bars until they get the message that crime doesn’t pay.