A New Castle woman who claims to have dated Keith Lamont Burley Jr. in her teens told the media Thursday that she wishes his recent girlfriend would have known what she knew about his violent tendencies.

Kyla Costa attended Burley's extradition hearing in the Mahoning County courthouse in Youngstown. Surrounded by television and print media representatives, she said she was there because she knows his family, not because she was there to support him. She emphasized that she does not want people to think she condones his Monday night actions.

Burley, 43, of Edinburg, is accused of stabbing 8-year-old Mark Edward Mason Jr. multiple times and killing him.

Mason's death was ruled a homicide from multiple stab wounds to the neck. The alleged murder occurred only about half an hour after Burley reportedly had been in a domestic quarrel with the boy's mother, who police said was his girlfriend.

He allegedly struck the woman multiple times and injured her while they were in the parking lot of the New Castle fire station, then he took the woman's car with her two sons in it and drove to 60 High St. in Union Township, where he repeatedly stabbed the older brother until he died.

The police found the boy's body in the kitchen, according to reports. Two boys who were upstairs, and the young Mason's 7-year-old brother were witnesses to the brutal act, police said.

After the stabbing, police launched an all-night manhunt for Burley, and he was arrested Tuesday morning in Youngstown. He had been in the Mahoning County jail until he waived his extradition hearing yesterday in the courtroom of Mahoning County Judge John Durkin. State police escorted him back to Lawrence County for arraignment before District Judge Jennifer L. Nicholson. She committed him to the Lawrence County jail without bond.

Burley is charged with criminal homicide and simple assault, two counts each of aggravated assault and unlawful restraint, three counts of terroristic threats and four counts of recklessly endangering other persons.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 18 in Central Court, but is subject to change.

He was represented at the three-minute extradition proceeding by attorney John McNally, who was appointed by the Mahoning County court.

"I knew about his problems," Costa said Thursday outside of the Ohio courtroom. "I just wish she would have known."

She was referring to Burley's girlfriend who lost her son to his alleged act of violence Monday night.

Costa said she is a friend of Burley's family and that she was his first girlfriend, when she was about 14 years old.

"I don't condone anything he did," she said. "It's horrendous."

She offered her opinion, that "all kinds of factors" were involved in what happened Monday, including mental illness, medications, and Burley's having gotten out of jail after having been institutionalized for 20 years without any type of rehabilitation.

He was released from prison on parole on March 28.

"You're dealing with someone who just got out of prison who has violent tendencies," she said.

Burley served his time after having pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in a robbery and shooting death that occurred in 1999 on Halco Drive. During his incarceration for the homicide and for one of a number of assault or gun offenses, he reportedly attacked a Lawrence County jail inmate, stabbing him in the neck with a knife in 2002.

Billy Greenawalt of Youngstown, formerly of Lawrence County, was seated in the courtroom yesterday when Burley waived extradition. He said that Burley was released from state prison about a month or two ago and was establishing himself. He said he and Burley had been friends for 25 years, since the mid-1990s, and that he had last talked to Burley about a week ago and learned he had landed a job at a plant in New Castle.

"He had gotten a job and he was working," Greenawalt said. "It's a sad situation. I'm just sick to my stomach over it."

Meanwhile, the child's family and friends are mourning the loss with prayers and vigils and a fund-raiser to help his 7-year-old brother, Matthew, who witnessed his violent death.

A GoFundMe page was established Wednesday by Rachel Flora, a Lockley Early Learning Center kindergarten teacher. The goal is to raise $5,000. By early Thursday afternoon, the donations had reached $5,285 and the goal was boosted to $10,000. Anyone who wants to contribute may visit gofundme.com and search under “The Heroism of two Amazing Brothers.”

A candlelight vigil and balloon release are planned in Mark Edward Mason's memory for 7 p.m. Monday in the parking lot of Elham Restaurant on East Washington Street, across from Cascade Park. Mason's mother is an employee at the establishment, which is owned by her brother. Those who plan to attend are to take their own candles and balloons. T-shirts will be sold at the gathering, with the proceeds going to Mason's family.




Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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