A woman accused of having an illegal abortion in Nebraska when she was 17 and disposing of the fetus was sentenced Thursday to 90 days in jail following a plea agreement.
Celeste Burgess, 19, of Norfolk, had entered a guilty plea in May to a felony charge of removing, concealing or abandoning a dead human body.
Misdemeanor charges of false reporting and concealing a death were dismissed under the agreement, according to documents filed in district court in Nebraska’s Madison County.
In addition to the jail term, Burgess was sentenced to serve two years of probation.
Norfolk police began investigating Celeste Burgess and her mother, Jessica Burgess, in late April 2022 following concerns Celeste had delivered a stillborn fetus, according to court documents.
Authorities used Facebook messages between Celeste and Jessica Burgess to establish that the two discussed obtaining abortion pills and burning “the evidence,” court documents showed. Police claimed the body of the fetus, which was exhumed, appeared to have injuries indicating it may have been burned after the pregnancy was terminated, according to court documents.
Celeste Burgess initially told investigators that the fetus was delivered stillborn, according to an affidavit in support of a search warrant.
Authorities alleged Celeste Burgess had a medication abortion, and that it violated the state’s prohibition of abortion after 20 weeks. Celeste Burgess was around 28 weeks pregnant when her pregnancy ended, court documents allege.
Earlier this year, Nebraska’s governor signed a bill into law that bans most abortions in the state after 12 weeks, with exceptions for sexual assault, incest and medical emergencies.
Jessica Burgess, 42, was charged with the same offenses as her daughter, plus a felony count of performing an abortion beyond 20 weeks and a felony count of performing an abortion as someone other than a licensed physician.
In a plea bargain earlier this month, Jessica Burgess pleaded guilty to two felonies – removing, concealing or abandoning a dead human body; and performing an abortion beyond 20 weeks – and the misdemeanor charge of false reporting.
The other charges against Jessica Burgess – the felony count of performing an abortion while not being a physician; and the misdemeanor count of concealing the death of another person – were dismissed.
Jessica Burgess’ attorney requested a psychological examination for her client. She is scheduled to be sentenced September 22.
CNN sought comment Wednesday from prosecutors and attorneys for Celeste and Jessica Burgess.
Sara O’Brien and Clare Duffy contributed to this report.