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Donna Jou killer pleads not guilty to possessing ammunition

July 26, 2012 |  1:33 pm

John Burgess during his arraignment at Los Angeles Criminal Court in 2009.

A sex offender convicted in the death of a San Diego State University nursing student was being held without bail Thursday after pleading not guilty to possession of ammunition, authorities said.

John Steven Burgess entered his plea Wednesday in Los Angeles and faces up to three years in county jail if convicted.

Burgess, 42, was arrested Monday after two women told a KTLA News reporter that they had seen drugs at his home. The women said they had responded to an online ad offering a rent-free living arrangement at his Hollywood apartment.

The KTLA reporter called police.

Burgess pleaded guilty in 2009 to involuntary manslaughter in the disappearance and death of nursing student Donna Jou. Under a plea deal, Burgess was sentenced to five years in prison.

He was released from custody in December after serving half his sentence.

Burgess told authorities that Jou, from Rancho Santa Margarita, died of a drug overdose in June 2007. He said he panicked and dumped her body in the ocean; it has never been recovered.

Jou's family has continued to press prosecutors to reopen the investigation. Burgess is expected back in court Aug. 8.


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-- Melissa Leu and Andrew Blankstein

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Photo: John Burgess during his arraignment in the slaying of nursing student Donna Jou in 2009. Credit: Los Angeles Times