MT. PLEASANT (KDKA) — A teenage boy who pleaded guilty to killing his friend two years ago is being released, and the decision isn’t sitting well with the victim’s parents.
A juvenile court judge ruled Friday that 17-year-old John Burnsworth, the young man who shot and killed J.R. Gustafson in Mt. Pleasant several years ago, is rehabilitated and will be rejoining society.
Gustafson’s parents, however, are not happy about it.
“There definitely wasn’t no justice for my son. So pretty much the law is, I guess, you can go and shoot somebody and kill someone, get less than two years and you’re walking the streets again,” Mark Gustafson, the victim’s father, said. “He should have been held responsible more for what he did.”
Burnsworth pleaded guilty to misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter in the 2016 killing of 13-year-old Gustafson inside a Mt. Pleasant home. Burnsworth has been in a youth rehabilitation facility for the last 11 months.
His counselors said Friday he made exceptional progress and is rehabilitated.
“In my experience, he has gone through the most profound turnaround I have ever seen,” Richard McCague, Burnsworth’s attorney, said.
In addition to probation, Burnsworth must continue his education and counseling. He’s not allowed unsupervised visits with his biological parents. He’s also not allowed contact with the Gustafson family and not allowed in Mt. Pleasant until he’s 21 years old.
The conditions of his release are little consolation for the murdered teen’s family.
“It’s been two years of hell. Every holiday, we wake up and go to the cemetery, and that’s how we get to see our son,” Mark said. “Meanwhile, the kid who did it gets to walk free.”
The conditions of release for Burnsworth also include that he is not allowed to partake in any type of social media.