published Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Man pleads guilty to murder at Devil's Pocket sinkhole in Soddy-Daisy

Keith Lee Stewart has pleaded guilty in the 2012 murder of Casey Burgiss, 24, in Soddy-Daisy.

As part of the plea to second-degree murder and especially aggravated robbery, he was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

He was originally charged with first-degree murder and especially aggravated robbery.

Stewart, 20, had faced a trial next week on those charges. If convicted in the trial he would have faced life in prison.

Burgiss, a father of three, was missing since July 21, 2012. Stewart led police to the body three months later. He first told police that other people with him at the time of Burgiss' death shot the victim during a robbery.

But Stewart later told a friend that he'd lured Burgiss up to Devil's Pocket, a cave-like sinkhole, telling him that he had a quarter pound of marijuana. Once there, Stewart told the other man, he killed Burgiss.

A medical examiner's report showed that Burgiss had been shot once in the face and once in the back of the head.

For more, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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