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Burgess charged in Donna Jou's death

March 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Nearly two years after the disappearance of Donna Jou, a college co-ed from Orange County, a longtime suspect in the case has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. Seven members of the victim's family were wearing a photo of her pinned to their clothes in court Tuesday for the arraignment of John Steven Burgess, a convicted sex offender charged with involuntary manslaughter and the disappearance and death of 19-year-old Donna Jou of Orange County. The felony complaint says Burgess did unlawfully and without malice kill Donna Jou.

Burgess is also charged with one misdemeanor count of concealment of an accidental death. Burgess is also charged with two drug-related counts. He pleaded not guilty. Bail was set at a million dollars.

It was a very short court proceeding and those two drug counts are for sale, transportation or offer to sell heroin and cocaine. An issue of complaint that Jou may have overdosed on the drugs and died, and that Burgess concealed her death. The district attorney will not comment on her death, how she died at all, or the circumstances surrounding it.

Donna Jou was last seen alive by her family in June 2007 as she rode away on the back of Burgess's motorcycle. Her body has not been found. Her mother was inconsolable after the arraignment.

"All this time, waiting and waiting just hoping and now this," said Nili Jou, Donna's mother. "It hurts, it hurts. Donna didn't deserve this."

"For over 20 months all of our family has suffered daily not knowing what, not knowing where Donna may be or whether or not she is even still alive," said Reza Jou, Donna's father. "It has been an agonizing excruciating experience for us all."

Thirty-six-year-old John Steven Burgess was already behind bars for failing to register as a sex offender. He would've been released this week, according to the family's attorney, Gloria Allred, on that charge.

Burgess has a preliminary hearing on April 1.


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