NEW CASTLE, Pa. (WKBN) – A man received two consecutive life sentences for stabbing an eight-year-old boy who died in Lawrence County.

Last month, a jury found Keith Burley, 47, guilty of criminal homicide, simple assault and kidnapping to inflict injury and terror charges last month following a trial. The jury deliberated for less than 15 minutes.

In July 2019, Burley stabbed 8-year-old Mark “Markie” Mason Jr. to death in Union Township after police say he abducted him from his mother. The murder happened in front of Mark’s younger brother.

Markie’s mother Maram Ford and brother, Matthew, both took the stand to detail the day of the murder.

Matthew said he remembered Burley driving him and “Markie” to a house where they had never been.

Matthew said there were two other young boys in the home, who they didn’t know. He remembers being scared and watching Burley go into a room and grab a knife and gun.

Matthew said Burley grabbed his and Markie’s necks, and he watched as Burley jumped on Markie, repeatedly stabbing him.

Burley represented himself during the trial.

Moments after sheriff’s deputies drove Burley away from the courthouse Tuesday, Markie’s mother says the last four years have been difficult.

“It was rough because that boy was just so bright, and he was funny. He would prank me all the time, and he just gave me life of how he was. He was so compassionate,’ Ford said.

Markie’s father told the judge what he’s lost the last four years can’t be put into words, adding Burley knows what he did.

At one point, Markie’s father even traded profanities with the defendant and deputies had to step in to keep them separated. But when it was her turn to speak, Ford took a very different tone.

“I heard my son’s voice, and I heard him saying, ‘Mommy, I forgave him and so should you.'” Ford said.

Attorneys say the crime started as a physical altercation between Bruley and Maram as she was driving home with Markie and his brother asleep in the backseat. When Maram stopped the car to get help, Burley drove off with the boys.

“What started as an argument in a car escalated to an assault, a strangulation, to a kidnapping, and then ultimately to the murder of an 8-year-old boy,” said District Attorney John Lamancusa.

Lamancusa said a video clip from 27 First News’ coverage of Burley’s arrest in Youngstown may have helped seal his fate. After he was taken into custody, Burley accused prosecutors of planting a piece of clothing in his belongings. Investigators say the video proved he was actually wearing that item when he was taken into custody.

Despite his continued claims of innocence, Judge Dominic Motto said evidence in the case was “overwhelming”

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