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Man pleads guilty in death of O.C. woman

May 6, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A convicted sex offender has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in connection with the 2007 disappearance of an Orange County woman.John Steven Burgess, 36, admitted he was involved in the death and disappearance of 19-year-old college student Donna Jou. He also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of concealment of an accidental death.

Jou was last seen June 23, 2007 at Burgess's rented home in the Palms area of Los Angeles. Burgess told the judge he met Jou on Craigslist and she came to a party at his home where there were drugs, including heroin and cocaine.

Burgess says he panicked when he woke up and realized she died of an overdose, and dumped her body in the ocean.

"In the morning I woke up and she was gone -- she was dead," said Burgess. "I panicked and got scared and made a really bad decision. I went down to my sailboat and I gave her to the sea."

The family of Jou was in the Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday. Burgess' statement to the court ended all hope of finding Jou alive.

"I miss my beautiful daughter," said Reza Jou, the woman father. "I never thought I would get to this point. I always hoped to see her. I miss her so much."

Burgess will meet privately with the family Thursday to discuss Jou's death.

He is scheduled to return to court on May 18 for sentencing. Burgess faces five years in prison.

Jou was an Orange County resident and honors student at San Diego State University.

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