North Carolina father who ‘sexually tortured’ his own teenage daughter before slitting her throat, was sentenced to death Friday in a Union County court
Joshua Lee Burgess, 35, brutally raped and murdered his 15-year-old daughter Zaria on August 18, 2019
Burgess killed the high school sophomore, after ‘psychologically and sexually torturing her for 22 hours
At the time Zaria, lived with her mother and was visiting dad in Monroe, NC, for the weekend
After the homicide, Burgess then walked into a sheriff’s office and confessed to the killing
Burgess gave cops his address where they found the teenager’s body
He will be executed by a lethal injection of pentobarbital
Execution must be scheduled between 15 and 120 days after sentencing, according to state protocol
A depraved father who tortured and raped his teenage daughter before slitting her throat was sentenced to death on Friday in Union County, North Carolina.
Joshua Lee Burgess killed 15-yearold high school sophomore, Zaria, on on August 18, 2019, after ‘psychologically and sexually torturing her for 22 hours’.
Burgess, 35, from Monroe was given the sentence after three hours of jury deliberations at the end of a three-week trial, the Union County District Attorney’s Office said.
The 15-year-old had come to visit her father for the weekend before he raped and killed her in August 2019.
At the time of the horrific slaying, Zaria lived with her biological mother but was visiting Burgess for the weekend.
Afterwards, he walked into a sheriff’s office and confessed to the killing.
He gave his address to investigators where they found the teenager’s body.
The official cause of death was determined to be a stab wound. Burgess facing a slew of charges including murder, kidnapping, statutory rape, statutory sex offense, and sexual exploitation of a minor.
The attorney’s office said: ‘This was truly an especially heinous, atrocious, and cruel killing of an innocent child.
‘This case was emotionally taxing for everyone involved. We continue to grieve with and pray for Zaria’s mother.’
In addition to one count of first-degree murder, Burgess was convicted of one count of statutory rape, three counts of statutory sex offense, and one count of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.
He received an additional minimum of nearly 76 years in prison for those offenses, according to the news release.
Union County Sheriff Tony Underwood said: ‘It’s just evil. I mean murder is murder, but to kill your own flesh and blood like this there’s just no way to explain it other than it’s just an evil crime.’
TV station WSOC previously reported Burgess’s defense attorneys asked for his admission to be scrubbed from the record.
The killer from Monroe was given the sentence after three hours of jury deliberations at the end of a three-week trial.
At the time of her death, Zaria was a high school sophomore on the dance team and in the marching band at Monroe High School.
Band director Alan Sturdivant had previously described her as full of energy.
Burgess will be housed at Central Prison in Raleigh until his death, alongside other death row inmates.
He will be executed by a lethal injection of pentobarbital according to state protocol, which must be scheduled between 15 and 120 days after sentencing.