Joshua Burgess has been sentenced to death by the State of North Carolina for the murder of a fifteen year old girl. According to court documents Joshua Burgess would sexually assault, torture and eventually murder his fifteen year old stepdaughter Zaria Burgess, in Monroe, North Carolina. According to police reports the vicious assault spanned nearly 22 hours. Fifteen year old Zaria Burgess eventually died after having her throat cut. Joshua Burgess would soon admit to police he had murdered someone and he was arrested. Nearly three years later Joshua Burgess would be found guilty and sentenced to death.
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Joshua Lee Burgess, 35, has been sentenced to death less than three years after he tortured and killed his teenage daughter, Zaria Burgess, in Monroe, North Carolina.
On Friday, the jury handed down Burgess’ sentence after three hours of deliberations, according to the Union County District Attorney’s Office. The sentencing came after a three-week trial.
Burgess killed his 15-year-old daughter on August 18, 2019, according to the district attorney’s office. According to investigators, he psychologically and sexually tortured Zaria for 22 hours at his home along Airport Road. He then cut her throat.
In addition to being convicted of first-degree murder, Burgess was convicted of statutory rape, three counts of statutory sex offense, and first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. In addition to a death sentence, Burgess was handed an additional 76 years of incarceration.
At the time of Zaria’s murder, law enforcement said the case was an example of “pure evil.” The 15-year-old was visiting her father for the weekend. After the killing, Burgess reportedly told the Union County Sheriff’s Office he had killed someone.
At the time, Zaria Burgess was a rising high school sophomore. She was on the dance team and in the marching band at Monroe High School. Her band director Alan Sturdivant previously said she was full of energy and was an ideal member of the band’s dance team.
Joshua Burgess will now be housed at Central Prison in Raleigh, North Carolina, which is where the North Carolina Department of Public Safety says male death row offenders are housed. The state’s execution protocol dictates death by pentobarbital, a type of lethal injection. Burgess’ execution date must be scheduled at least 15 days after his sentencing, but no more than 120 days.
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A Union County jury took three hours to decide that a Charlotte-area man should be sentenced to death for murdering and raping his 15-year-old daughter. In August 2019, Joshua Lee Burgess, 35, killed his daughter, Zaria, after sexually and psychologically torturing her for 22 hours at his home off Airport Road in Monroe. Zaria was visiting her father for the weekend, WCNC reported. Burgess was convicted of first-degree murder, one count of statutory rape, three counts of statutory sex offense and one count of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, Union County District Attorney Trey Robison’s office said in a news release. He received an additional minimum of nearly 76 years in prison for his crime
The jury’s decision came after a three-week trial, according to Robison’s office’s news release.
“This was truly an especially heinous, atrocious, and cruel killing of an innocent child,” Robison’s office said in the news release. “This case was emotionally taxing for everyone involved. We continue to grieve with and pray for Zaria’s mother.”
Zaria was a rising sophomore at Monroe High School and was a member of the marching band and dance team at the time of her death, WCNC reported.
“The details of this murder are indescribable. Every officer and detective involved in this case is feeling the effects of what happened to this child,” Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey told the TV station. “There is no logical answer to explain why this man did what he is accused of doing. Our hearts and prayers are with Zaria’s mom and her family.”
Burgess took Union County detectives to the scene of the crime and “readily admitted to what transpired,” Tony Underwood with the Sheriff’s Office told WCNC in 2019. Burgess is currently at Central Prison in Raleigh, where male death row offenders are housed, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety said. A single dose of pentobarbital, a drug typically used to treat insomnia and anxiety, is used to kill offenders sentenced to death in NC, according to execution protocol.