North Carolina man sentenced to death for murdering his daughter

MONROE, North Carolina — A North Carolina man has been sentenced to death for the murder of his teenage daughter in 2019, according to the local prosecutor’s office.

The Union County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release Friday that a jury handed down the sentence after about three hours of deliberations following the three-week trial of Joshua Lee Burgess, 35.

Burgess killed her 15-year-old daughter, Zaria, after “psychologically and sexually torturing her for 22 hours,” the statement said.

“It was truly a particularly heinous, atrocious and cruel murder of an innocent child. This case was emotionally taxing for everyone involved. We continue to mourn and pray for Zaria’s mother,” the press release read.

In addition to one count of first-degree murder, Burgess was convicted of one count of statutory rape, three counts of statutory sexual 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 press release.

Authorities said at the time of Burgess’ arrest that he walked into a sheriff’s office and confessed to the murder.

The WSOC television network previously reported that Burgess’s defense attorneys requested that his admission be expunged from the record. It was not immediately clear who is representing Burgess at trial or whether he would seek an appeal.

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