Man pleads guilty in Durham sex assault and Duke hospital bathroom strangulation

Durham County News

RALEIGH, N.C.(WNCN) – A Durham man has pleaded guilty to assaulting two women in 2015, the Durham District Attorney’s office announced Monday.

Emanuel Burch pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree sexual offense, a Class B1 felony, for a crime that occurred on the Ellerbee Creek Trail on Nov. 11, 2015. He was accused of approaching the woman from behind, choking her into unconsciousness, and then dragging her into the woods where she was sexually assaulted.

On Sept. 9, 2019, investigators learned that the DNA profile from the kit matched a DNA profile in that national database, which was linked to Burch. The test results gave police the evidence needed to make an arrest.

Burch also pleaded guilty to one count of assault by strangulation, a Class H felony, and one count of sexual battery, a Class A1 misdemeanor, for an assault that took place on September 20, 2015.

The district attorney’s office said the victim in that case was at Duke University Medical Center when she was also approached from behind and choked in a bathroom. The victim lost consciousness, fell, and hit her head but the district attorney’s office said she was able to scratch Burch’s arm during the attack.

In 2020, DNA taken from the victim’s fingernails helped link Burch to the attack. The district attorney’s office said Burch was already a suspect after he was captured on surveillance video in the hospital and because of similarities to the attack on Ellerbe Creek Trail.

Burch was sentenced to a maximum of 24 years in prison and ordered to not have contact with either victim.

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