Burgess Sentenced to Five Years

A man who admitted plying an Orange County college coed with drugs and dumping her body in the ocean when she overdosed was sentenced today to five years in prison.

John Steven "Sinjin" Burgess, 36, pleaded guilty May 6 to involuntary manslaughter and a misdemeanor count of concealment of an accidental death, admitting that he gave drugs to 19-year-old Donna Jou of Rancho Santa Margarita. Jou, whom Burgess met online, was a student at San Diego State University.

When he entered his plea, Burgess described the circumstances of Jou's June 23, 2007, death, saying he answered an advertisement she had placed on Craigslist.com and brought her to his Palms area house, where there was alcohol and drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and heroin.

"I gave her some," Burgess said.

Burgess -- who pleaded no contest in October 2007 to failing to register as a sex offender and was sentenced to three years in prison -- said he awoke in the morning and "she was gone ... she was dead."

"And uh, I just, I panicked and got scared and ... I made a really bad decision. And I went down to my sailboat and I just, uh, I gave her to the sea," he said.

"Did you put her body in the ocean?" Deputy District Attorney David Walgren asked.


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"Yes, sir," Burgess responded.

The deputy district attorney noted that Burgess had gone with him and detectives to the marina to try to find the young woman's body.

Burgess was charged March 17 in connection with the Rancho Santa Margarita woman's death -- just days before he was to be released from prison for failing to register as a sex offender.

Two other charges filed against Burgess in March -- one felony count each of sale, transportation or offer to sell heroin and sale, transportation or offer to sell cocaine -- were dismissed as part of his plea deal.

Burgess met privately with Jou's family a few days after entering his plea.

Jou's parents, along with their attorney, Gloria Allred, demanded today that the Craigslist Internet service block registered sex criminals from using it to troll for victims.

Craigslist has been under fire from prosecutors across the country for allowing prostitutes and strippers to advertise their services for free. The company last week announced it will now charge $10 for such listings and segregate them into an "adult services" category, and only accept such ads after Craigslist workers somehow vet them for accuracy.

But that change has displeased some prosecutors, who said it may still allow Craigslist to offer illegal services.

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