A A Nebraska teenager was sentenced to 90 days in jail and 24 months in prison. After terminating her pregnancy and trying to burn and bury the remains.
Celeste Burgess, 19, pleaded guilty earlier this year in Madison County District Court to “concealing or abandoning a corpse,” court documents obtained by TODAY.com show. The teenager was sentenced on Thursday, July 20, documents show.
So did Burgess’ mother, Jessica Burgess He pleaded guilty to providing an illegal abortion.Filing a false report and defacing human remains after she allegedly helped her daughter terminate her pregnancy, the AP reported.
TODAY.com reached out to prosecutors and the defense for both filings, but they did not respond at the time of publication.
According to a search warrant and affidavit obtained by TODAY.com, Norfolk Police Detective Ben McBride began investigating “concerns” that a “teenager” gave birth to a prematurely dead child after prosecutors said Burgess wanted to have an abortion and exhume and burn the body.
After conducting interviews and obtaining medical records, law enforcement determined Burgess — then 17 — was pregnant on March 8, 2022, and estimated she was 23 weeks pregnant when she terminated her pregnancy.
Celeste Burgess said in her deposition that McBride first suffered a miscarriage in the shower.
McBride said in a statement that after obtaining a search warrant to search the Facebook accounts of Celeste and Jessica Burgess, investigators found messages between the mother and daughter discussing the use of abortion pills.
McBride said in the affidavit that Jessica Burgess found medication for her child, ordering her to take the first pill that suppresses the pregnancy hormone progesterone, and ordering her to take the second pill 24 hours later.
Jessica and Celeste Burgess discuss plans to cremate and bury the remains of the fetus. By search warrant and affidavit.
Jessica and Celeste Burgess voluntarily showed McBride where the fetal remains were eventually buried, the affidavit said. The body was buried and exhumed twice before the daughter and her mother tried to cremate it, the affidavit said, then buried it a third time with the help of 23-year-old Tanner Barnhill.
Last year, Barnhill, then 22, tried to conceal the death, pleading no contest to a Class 3 felony.
At the time Celeste Burgess terminated her pregnancy, abortion was legal in Nebraska up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Prosecutors did not charge Celeste Burgess under the new abortion law. Instead, she was charged with “concealing or abandoning a dead body.”
In court Thursday, Celeste Burgess told District Judge James Kube that she was not coerced by her mother or another adult. Norfolk Daily News.
“I was scared at the time,” said Celeste Burgess. The local outlet reported. “I didn’t know what to do. I was shocked. After everything was done, I didn’t know which way to turn.
Before the sentencing, Celeste Burgess told Cube she was “scared of being taken away from her family.” The Norfolk Daily News reported.
“And I want to see – instead of being locked up – I want a chance to prove to everyone that I can actually be a good person,” the 19-year-old said through tears.
The teenager left court in handcuffs. She is now a registered inmate at the Madison County Jail, according to public records.
This article was originally published by TODAY.com