DA, public defender meet to discuss next steps in Burley case

Keith L. Burley, shown here during his extradition hearing at the Mahoning County Courthouse in Youngstown, Ohio, on July 11, 2019, was not in the courtroom Friday, but Lawrence County District Attorney Josh Lamancusa and Burley's public defense lawyers discussed the status of the case in judge's chambers.

Lawyers representing a former Edinburg man accused in the stabbing death of 8-year-old Mark "Markie" Edward Mason Jr. met with Lawrence County District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa on Friday behind closed doors. 

The status conference, where attorneys and a judge can discuss matters before a trial, took place in a judge's chambers as the case against Keith L. Burley moves through the court system.

Lamancusa and court-appointed public defenders from the Pittsburgh law firm Farrell & Associates declined comment on Friday, citing the ongoing nature of the proceedings.  

Burley, 43, is charged in the July 8, 2019, slaying with one count of criminal homicide, two counts of kidnapping to inflict injury or terror and simple assault. 

Charges of aggravated assault, unlawful restraint, terroristic threats and recklessly endangering other people have since been withdrawn. Burley pled not guilty to all charges during an Aug. 29, 2019, preliminary hearing and was not present during Friday's meeting. 

Lamancusa previously stated his intention to seek the death penalty in the case. The defense, meanwhile, during the preliminary hearing argued much of the evidence in the case is based on hearsay.

Burley was released from state prison in March 2019, and was on parole after serving the minimum sentence of 20 years in a 1999 third-degree murder charge. On July 8, Burley and his girlfriend at the time, Maram Saada, became involved in a verbal and physical dispute with Saada's two sons, Markie, 8, and his 7-year-old younger brother in a car.

Saada, who was driving the vehicle, was able to drive to the New Castle Fire Department station and flee the vehicle toward an open bay door as firefighters dispatched 911 on their radios, according to police interviews. Burley then drove the car with the two boys to a home at 60 High St. in Union Township — the woman who lived there carpooled to work with Burley — where he retrieved a gun from a bedroom and was yelling for the boys to find the clip. 

Burley also retrieved a pink camouflage knife which he then used, according to police interviews, to stab Mason in the neck. Autopsy records show Mason was stabbed more than 140 times. 

Mason's brother along with a 15-year-old and 7-year-old set of separate brothers who lived at the home fled the scene to safety while Burley ended up in Ohio. He was apprehended the next morning in Youngstown, Ohio, by U.S. Marshals after an overnight manhunt. He was wearing the same bloodied shirt, pants, shoes and hat as the night before.

psirianni@ncnewsonline.com

Digital editor

Pete Sirianni is the News' digital editor. Previously, he worked at The Bradford (Pa.) Era. Sirianni is a 2016 IUP graduate, earning a degree in journalism and public relations. Contact him at psirianni@ncnewsonline.com or on Twitter at @PeterSirianni.

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