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OC student's killer to be freed from prison

April 11, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A registered sex offender convicted in the death of an Orange County woman will soon be a free man. He served less than half his sentence. Her family is outraged.

The man convicted in the death of 19-year-old Donna Jou in 2007 is set to be released from prison Friday. That's three years ahead of schedule.

Jou's family says John Steven Burgess, 41, does not belong in society and says justice has not been served.

With an overcrowded prison system, it's not uncommon for state prisoners to be released after serving only half their sentences, with good behavior. Burgess, a convicted sex offender, is scheduled to be released Friday after serving less than half his sentence for the death of Donna Jou. Jou's parents call that a "slap on the wrist."

Nili Jou can't fight back the tears as she takes her fight for justice to Sacramento.

"From the beginning my daughter didn't get any justice. Justice failed us. The system failed us. Constitution failed us," said Jou.

Jou last saw daughter Donna in June 2007.

"The killer needs to be shot, the killer needs to be dead, the killer needs to pay for it," said Nili Jou.

Burgess was convicted in 2009 of involuntary manslaughter and concealing the body of Donna Jou.

The Orange County woman was a straight-"A" student at San Diego State University. She met Burgess through an ad she placed on Craigslist offering math tutoring.

Burgess told authorities Jou died after he gave her drugs at a party at his home in Palms and then dumped her body in the ocean.

Jou's father doesn't believe Burgess's story, and says he doesn't believe his daughter is dead.

"We have done many underwater searches by various experts, and there is nothing to be found," said Reza Jou. "So all of them with one voice are telling that this man has lied. The way he described the packaging, the body should be recovered."

Reza Jou says he's devoted his life to seeking justice for his daughter, and losing Donna has left a hole in his heart.

"My life has been turned upside down," said Reza. "There is no healing for me. My life is dedicated now to finding the truth and fighting for justice."

Donna's body has not been recovered. Law enforcement considers the case closed, but Jou's family continues to offer a $15,000 reward to anyone with information that will help them find her.