UNION COUNTY, N.C. (TCD) -- A 35-year-old man was recently sentenced to death for the 2019 murder of his 15-year-old daughter Zaria Burgess.
According to a news release from the Union County District Attorney’s Office, on August 18, 2019, Joshua Burgess fatally slit his daughter’s throat after "psychologically and sexually torturing her for 22 hours at his home off Airport Road in Monroe." Burgess was convicted of one count 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.
After committing the crime, Burgess told the first person he encountered at the Union County Sheriff’s Office, "I just killed someone," WCNC-TV reports.
Union County Sheriff’s Office chief communications officer Tony Underwood told WCNC, "This is a case where it’s pure evil. He readily admitted to what transpired."
Zaria’s body was found in her father’s home, according to WCNC. At the time of the incident, she was reportedly a rising sophomore at Monroe High School as well as a member of the marching band and dance team.
On June 3, the District Attorney’s Office announced Burgess was sentenced to death by a Union County jury after a three-week trial.
In a statement, the District 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."