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Sentencing today in Donna Jou death case

May 18, 2009 | 10:13 am

Sentencing is scheduled this afternoon for John Steven Burgess, a convicted sex offender who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and concealment of an accidental death in the case of 19-year-old Donna Jou, a San Diego State honors student from Orange County.

Jou's family plans to attend the sentencing in Los Angeles County Superior Court and afterward demand that Craigslist change company policies to prevent convicted sexual predators, such as Burgess, from using the service to contact potential victims.

Nearly two years ago, Jou left home with a man she met on the Internet; her family never saw her again.  Her parents believed that  Burgess knew what had happened to their daughter but refused to tell them.

Earlier this month, the convicted sex offender pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and to concealing Jou's body. Burgess, who recently completed a term for failing to register as a sex offender, has said Jou died after he gave her cocaine, heroin and alcohol at a party at his home in Palms.

When he awoke the next morning, Burgess said, she was dead. He said he panicked and used his sailboat to dump her body in the ocean.

His plea-bargain calls for five years in state prison. Authorities, who have declined to specify where Donna Jou's body was dumped, said they have searched the area but found nothing.

-- Paloma Esquivel