Keith L. Burley Jr. was out of prison on parole from a previous murder for just over three months when he allegedly brutally stabbed a child on Monday night and killed him.

The Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole had given the 43-year-old a satisfactory review before releasing him from the State Correctional Institution at Fayette in Fayette County, where he served a minimum of a 20- to 40-year sentence for the 1999 robbery and killing of 36-year-old Randall Stewart in the housing projects at Halco Drive.

Despite Burley’s list of additional convictions for other past aggravated assault and gun offenses, the board, on March 1, handed down the reasons for its decision to free him for what it cited as positive reasons.

Burley, whose current address was Edinburg, is the suspect in the kidnapping and brutal slaying of 8-year-old Mark Edward Mason, whom he allegedly stabbed multiple times in the neck, according to information from an autopsy as relayed by Lawrence County Deputy coroner Rich “R.J.” Johnson. He was arrested Tuesday morning in Youngstown and was returned to the Lawrence County jail without bond Thursday.

According to the Notice of Board Decision, a document produced by the the parole board, it had interviewed Burley and reviewed his file and, “and having considered all matters required pursuant to the board of probation and parole in the exercise of its discretion,” it concluded that his parole would be granted.

The document cited these reasons for his March 28 release:

•His participation in and completion of prescribed institutional programs.

•His positive institutional behavior.

•A positive recommendation by the state Department of Corrections.

•His demonstrated motivation for success.

•His acceptance of responsibility for the offenses he committed.

•His stated remorse for those offenses.

•His development of a parole release plan.

•The positive recommendation by the trial judge.

District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa had said Wednesday that he contacted the governor’s office about Burley’s release, demanding to know why Burley was released from state prison after having served only the minimum sentence of a previous homicide conviction, when he also leaves a trail of convictions of other violent crimes, some involving guns and assaults.

Lamancusa vowed Wednesday that he intends to have the pending homicide and related charges against Burley certified as a death penalty case in the courts.


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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