Trucker convicted of raping Saint Martin's University student, 20

A Thurston County jury has convicted a former long-haul trucker of a stun-gun assault and rape of a Saint Martin's University student in Lacey in April 2008.

The jury convicted Richard Duane Bunch, 51, of first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery after deliberating for a short time Monday following closing arguments by prosecutors and Bunch’s court-appointed attorney.

Bunch, who is serving a 10-year to life prison sentence for a rape of a 13-year-old developmentally disabled girl in Nevada, faces up to 25 additional years in prison when he is sentenced for the Lacey rape, Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jon Tunheim said Monday.

Bunch has an additional pending rape case he is scheduled to stand trial for in Kittitas County. Bunch is accused of raping a 9-year-old girl at Central Washington University in Ellensburg.

Bunch’s sentencing for the rape of the Saint Martin’s University student is scheduled for Nov. 17, Tunheim said.

The rape of the Saint Martin’s student occurred on April 2, 2008, when a 20-year-old woman was walking in a wooded area near campus. She was attacked and subdued by a man who shocked her repeatedly with a stun gun. The suspect threatened to kill her during the rape, which occurred during broad daylight.

After Monday’s verdict, jury foreman Tom Coleman said the evidence against Bunch in the rape of the Saint Martin’s student was “just really overwhelming.” It included the victim’s stolen iPod and a stun gun found in a truck Bunch had been driving for Gordon Trucking when he was arrested in August 2008.

Other evidence included a sketch of the suspect in the Saint Martin’s rape by a Lacey police sketch artist. The sketch bore an “uncanny resemblance” to Bunch, Coleman said.

A DNA sample from Bunch matched the attacker’s DNA that had been taken after the student’s rape, court papers state.

Coleman credited the prosecution and police for building a solid case against Bunch. Bunch did not take the witness stand during the trial.

“We think we’ve really done justice and got a bad guy off the street,” Coleman said on behalf of the jury. Bunch appeared to show no remorse during the trial, Coleman added.

Bunch was arrested in Pierce County in August 2008, on suspicion of raping a 13-year-old developmentally disabled girl in Washoe County, Nevada. Bunch was accused in Nevada of approaching the 13-year-old at the Sparks Marina, near Reno, in July 2008, about two months after the rape in Lacey. They swam briefly before he lured her into his truck by asking if she wanted to watch a movie, according to Washoe County authorities.

After Bunch’s arrest in Pierce County, Lacey Police Detective Steve Brooks was looking at a news website for a Seattle TV station and saw Bunch’s photo in a news story about Bunch’s arrest in connection with the Nevada rape. He noticed that Bunch’s photo closely resembled a police artist’s sketch of the suspect in the then-unsolved Saint Martin’s rape case.

On Monday, Tunheim, who led the prosecution during Bunch’s trial, credited Brooks with excellent police work in seeing the resemblance of Bunch’s face in the photo with the face in the police artist’s sketch. Tunheim added that Lacey Police Detective Jeremy Knight also did a great job of leading the subsequent investigation.

“This result can be attributed to some very fine police work by the Lacey Police Department,” Tunheim said. Bunch’s conviction by the Thurston County jury “is going to ensure that he’s not going to be out on the streets for a very long time,” Tunheim added.

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465