MONROE, NC (AP) – A North Carolina man has been sentenced to death for the 2019 murder of his teenage daughter, according to the local prosecutor’s office.
The Union County District Attorney’s Office said in a press release Friday that a jury had pronounced its verdict after about three hours of deliberation following the three-week trial of 35-year-old Joshua Lee Burgess.
Burgess killed his 15-year-old daughter, Zaria, after he tortured her “psychically and sexually for 22 hours,” the press release said.
“This was a truly gruesome, horrific and cruel murder of an innocent child. This case was emotionally taxing for all involved. We continue to mourn and pray for Zaria’s mother,” the statement said.
In addition to one count of first degree murder, Burgess was convicted of one count of statutory rape, three counts of statutory sex offenses, and one count of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. He was given an additional minimum of nearly 76 years in prison for those violations, according to the press release.
Authorities said at the time of Burgess’ arrest that he had walked into a sheriff’s office and confessed to the murder.
WSOC TV station previously reported that Burgess’ lawyers asked for his confession to be removed from the file. It was not immediately clear who Burgess was representing at the trial or whether he would appeal.
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