Fighting for change after a daughter's death

May 22, 2009 8:58:28 PM PDT
A Clear Lake father is telling the story of his meeting with the man who last saw his daughter alive. As we first told you earlier this month, John Steven Burgess made a plea deal in a California court for his connection to the death and disappearance of 19-year-old Donna Jou. Reza Jou has made 26 trips to California since his daughter Donna disappeared there in June 2007.

"We are very depressed," said Reza.

The most recent trip was this week, as he read a seven-page statement in a Los Angeles courtroom.

"We are expected to believe his story as it were based on fact," said Reza.

Then Burgess, 36, was sentenced to five years in prison for his role in Donna's death and disappearance.

"They accept his confession and sentence him for five years which is far from the justice being done," said Reza.

Burgess made a plea deal earlier this month after confessing he gave Donna drugs and alcohol at his party then claimed he panicked when he found her dead the next morning, and dumped her body in the ocean.

Reza questions if the Burgess confession was the whole truth.

"The justice system says we have two choices: accept his confession or let him go," said Reza.

Investigators believe Burgess contacted Donna through her math tutor posting on craigslist.org.

Part of his plea agreement was an unusual meeting between the defendant and the parents of Donna.

"I tried really hard to control myself because I was sitting across the table from him. He's a real con artist, a very smooth talker," said Reza.

Reza said his daughter, a brilliant Clear Lake high school graduate who studied pre-med, will never be able to fulfill one promise.

"She promised that she wanted to be my personal doctor in my old age," said Reza.

Now he says his promise is to make other teens more aware.

"That's what my mission is going to be from now on," said Reza.

The Jous said their fight for justice and change won't stop. The family, along with high-profile attorney Gloria Allred, is scheduled to meet with the CEO of craigslist.org. They will lobby for safety measures which would screen convicted criminals from the site, especially registered sex offenders like Burgess.

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