Man accused of stabbing 8-year-old to death is back in Pennsylvania
Lawrence County District Attorney Josh Lamancusa says that he will seek the death penalty against Keith Burley, Jr.
The prison parolee accused of murdering his girlfriend's 8-year-old son on Monday is now back in Pennsylvania where the crime happened.
Keith Burley has been formally charged in Lawrence County with the boy's kidnapping and murder, as well as two counts of felonious assault, simple assault and unlawful restraint.
The 43-year-old New Castle man made his initial appearance in a New Castle courtroom around 2:00PM on Thursday.
As Burley was escorted out of the courtroom by Pennsylvania State Troopers, news reporters asked him, "Did you commit these horrible acts? What do you have to say about the child?"
Burley didn't utter a word as State Police put him in a vehicle to transport him to the Lawrence County Jail.
According to witnesses, Burley stabbed eight-year-old Markie Mason to death inside a home at 60 High Street in Union Township and yelled "Die, die," as the boy's young brother ran to a neighbor for help. Pennsylvania State Police say this all happened after an argument between Burley and his girlfriend, who was also the child's mother.
Bill Greenawalt, a friend of Burley's for more than twenty years tells 21 News, "It's sad man. A little child lost his life and then to know that your friend - thinking that he got himself right, would have you know turned out to do something like this. It doesn't sit well with me."
Greenawalt says he just saw Burley a week ago, and Burley told him he was working and that things were going well. Greenawalt came to court to see Burley go before Judge Jack Durkin in Mahoning County. Burley waived interstate extradition so that he could be transferred from Youngstown where he was arrested and taken back to Pennsylvania to face charges.
Kyla Costa, a former girlfriend, says Burley allegedly has mental health issues and may have been off of his medication.
"You're dealing with somebody that just got out of prison and has violent tendencies. This is horrible, this is horrendous," Costa said.
So why was Burley on the streets in the first place, after being convicted of a 1999 mugging and murder involving a gun?
Former Lawrence County District Attorney Matt Mangino who prosecuted Burley at the time, and is also a former member of the Pennsylvania Parole Board say, "Burley did his time by serving 20 years of his 19 to 38 year sentence, and no one could have predicted this most recent tragedy.
"A homicide case, he pled to third degree murder, and that requires five of the nine board members to vote in favor of parole. So this is something that would have been closely scrutinized," Attorney Mangino said.
The parole board would not only consider Burley's behavior in prison, but look at a risk assessment and other factors, including whether the murder victim's family in the 1999 case raised a protest.
Now Burley could return to prison and face the death penalty if convicted of killing an 8-year-old child.