SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit has completed its first case review, and has decided to uphold the conviction of a man sentenced to prison for sexually abusing a child.

Ryan David Burke, 41, of American Fork, was convicted of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, forcible sexual abuse and dealing in harmful materials to a minor in 2008. He was sentenced to one to 15 years in the Utah State Prison.

Burke appealed his conviction, arguing his defense attorneys failed to investigate a potential alibi. Burke was originally arrested for investigation of forgery in addition to sex abuse. He claimed the timeline of when the forgery allegedly occurred provided an alibi for the other charges.

A judge tossed Burke’s conviction in 2013 and granted him a new trial. But the state appealed that decision and in 2015 the Utah Court of Appeals reversed the judge’s ruling, thus upholding the original conviction.

On Oct. 8, 2018, Salt Lake District Attorney Sim Gill announced the formation of the Conviction Integrity Unit. The purpose of the five member panel is to look at claims of “actual innocence” by those who believe they were wrongly convicted of a felony and have exhausted all possible appeals.

Ten days after Gill’s announcement, Burke submitted an application for his case to be reviewed.

On Wednesday, the panel announced it’s findings, marking the Conviction Integrity Unit’s first completed case review.

In a prepared statement, the unit said it had spent the past year reviewing Burke’s case.

“The panel recommends no action be taken by the district attorney to vacate, modify or otherwise affect Mr. Burke’s conviction or sentence,” the panel wrote in a prepared statement.

View Comments

According to their official decision, “We find nothing that leads us to question the jury’s assessment of the credibility, reliability or value of the testimony of the victims and of the other witnesses called by the state, or of the value of the evidence presented by the defense in the form of expert testimony.

“Nothing Mr. Burke presented in support of his application, not his alibi claim, not his contention that the ... family had it out for him, nor his protestations of innocence, suggests the jury was wrong in its assessment of the evidence.”

Gill released his own statement, stating that members of the Conviction Integrity Unit were “careful, diligent, and deliberate” in reaching their decision.

“I accept their recommendation and support the findings. We will never close the door on a claim of innocence, new information always has the possibility of changing a decision. When this unit was created it was done so with an eye towards independence and transparency. Every review done by the CIU will be published unedited for the sake of transparency,” Gill stated.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.