Jurors in the 18th District Court deliberated about 25 minutes Friday morning before finding Rosalyn Elizabeth Burdett guilty of continuous sexual abuse of a child in connection with her then 7-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter. Jurors, after the trial’s punishment phase, sentenced Burdett to life in prison without the possibility of parole after deliberating about 10 minutes.
Burdett, who cried throughout much of her weeklong trial displayed no emotion during the announcements of either verdict.
Detectives arrested Burdett, 41 of Mansfield, in July 2012 after her former husband found images on her computer hard drive depicting sexual activities involving Burdett, her children and a man later identified as Jay Morgan, 50, of Arlington.
Morgan, who faced similar charges to Burdett’s, hanged himself in August while in custody at the Johnson County Law Enforcement Center and was pronounced dead later that same day.
Detectives from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers characterized the images retrieved from Burdett and Morgan’s computers as among the worst instances of child pornography found in Johnson County.
Johnson County Assistant District Attorney Brent Huffman apologized to jurors on the opening day of Burdett’s trial for pictures they were about to see. In addition to numerous pictures of Burdett’s children unclothed and engaging in sexual activities, jurors also endured the reading of emails between Burdett and Morgan containing content of highly graphic sexual nature and the introduction of sex toys and devices into evidence.
Burdett’s attorney, Bill Mason, urged jurors to consider the story behind the pictures.
Mason, during closing arguments, argued that evidence presented during trial proves Burdett expressed no previous sexual interest in children and that she “staged” the pictures and wrote the graphic emails solely under duress and out of fear of Morgan and her belief that he would kill her and her children if she did not submit to his demands.