Jury finds Caleb Cannon guilty of first degree premeditated murder of Nikki Burgess

Nikki Burgess (Left) Caleb Cannon (Right)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN/WATE) – The jury has found Caleb Cannon guilty of first degree premeditated murder. He will receive an automatic life sentence with no parole, but the defense is allowed to appeal.

Cannon was charged with the death of his child’s mother, Nikki Burgess. Burgess disappeared in May 2014.

Her remains have yet to be found, but detectives say dogs alerted to decomposition inside the bathtub of her Hermitage home as well as the trunk of Cannon’s car. Cannon, who is from Anderson County, was arrested for first-degree murder in October 2015 due to evidence collected by detectives.

A former cellmate told investigators Cannon confessed to the murder sometime after his arrest and said he took her body to East Tennessee. Police previously said they believe money and custody of the couple’s son was the motive for the murder.

Previous story: Former cellmate says Caleb Cannon described murdering Nikki Burgess

During closing statements, prosecutors focused on Cannon’s testimony of unusual events on the afternoon and night of Burgess’ death. They say Cannon killed Burgess because of a custody dispute over their 10-year-old son.

“First of all, the defendant was late to pick him up, which he testified had never happened before. He was so late that he was the last child left at school, and he had actually fallen asleep in the principal’s office,” said prosecutors. “He told you the defendant took him back to Ms. Burgess’ house and they proceeded to go back into the house and hover for over five hours.”

The defense focused on what they saw as weak points in witness testimony that did not prove guilt.

“These witnesses don’t match about key things,” said the defense. “[Cannon’s son] comes into this court, very difficult for everybody; he hasn’t seen his dad in three years. He says it was unusual to go back to the house. They want you to think it was unheard of, but young Cannon said himself sometimes after school we go to the mall, we go here, we go there, it’s Memorial Day weekend, let the kids play outside,” the defense team continued.

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