Nebraska woman pleads guilty to burning fetus after abortion
OMAHA, Nebraska (AP) — A Nebraska woman pleaded guilty Monday to burning and hiding a fetus after taking medication to terminate her pregnancy while prosecutors advance a criminal case blames her mother illegal abortion assistance.
Prosecutors said Celeste Burgess gave birth to the stillborn fetus about 29 weeks and five days into her pregnancy. She was 17 at the time, but prosecutors accused her of being an adult.
Burgess, now 18, pleaded guilty to hiding or leaving a body and prosecutors dropped two misdemeanor charges. The fetus was found buried in a field north of Norfolk in northeastern Nebraska.
Her mother, Jessica Burgess, 42, is accused of illegally assisting with an abortion last spring. The prosecutor involved said he has never charged anyone with violating Nebraska’s 20-week abortion grace period, which was passed in 2010. On Monday, Nebraska’s Gov. Jim Pills said signed a 12-week ban on abortion into the law. It came into effect immediately.
The case against the mother and daughter is based in part on Facebook messages the two women exchanged about their plan to obtain the drugs to induce an abortion and then cremate the fetus.
Jessica Burgess has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to appear again in court on July 7 for a preliminary hearing. Her attorney did not immediately respond to a message Monday.
Celeste Burgess is scheduled to be sentenced on July 20. You face up to two years in prison. Prosecutors agreed not to issue a penalty recommendation.
According to court documents, in the messages she exchanged with her mother, the daughter “did talk about how she can’t wait to get the ‘thing’ out of her body.” In one of the messages, which investigators received with a search warrant, she also said: “Finally I will be able to wear jeans”.
In a message, Jessica Burgess informed her daughter that she had received the pills and gave her instructions on how to end her pregnancy. Last summer, a man pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for helping women bury the fetus.