FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) — A long-haul truck driver was sentenced to life in prison Monday after he pleaded guilty to 17 first-degree felonies, including sexually assaulting at least eight women in Davis County in Utah.
Mark Douglas Burns, 69, of Ogden, pleaded guilty in February to aggravated sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery.
The charges were connected to sexual assaults of three women in Davis County in 2000 and 2001, but there were other cases where charges couldn’t be brought because the legal deadlines had passed, including suspected cases in Wyoming, prosecutors said.
Developments in DNA analysis and technology led investigators to Burns after a genetic genealogists used a public database to find a relative who had uploaded their DNA online, authorities told The Salt Lake Tribune.
Police went through his trash and were able to match his DNA on several items to DNA collected in sexual assault examinations of the women, the Deseret News reported. Burns was arrested in September.
He appeared in court through a video feed from the Davis County Jail and apologized for his actions, saying he has not committed any crimes since 2002 and started to feel shame and remorse.
“I realize that saying I’m sorry doesn’t fix what I did. Pleading guilty and going to prison doesn’t fix what I did. But it’s all I can do for them," he said.
Burns’ attorney Colleen Coebergh left the courtroom without comment.
The sentencing order by Second District Judge John Morris equates to at least 242 years imprisonment.
Burns is also a suspect in a cold-case murder in Evanston. He has not yet entered a plea to the charges, prosecutors said.