BEAVER COUNTY, Pa. (KDKA) — One year ago Wednesday, a deadly stabbing stunned a local neighborhood.
Police believe 43-year-old Keith Burley stabbed 8-year-old Mark “Markie” Mason more than 100 times.
On the anniversary of the little boy’s death, KDKA’s Meghan Schiller talked to the boy’s family and a local state representative pushing a new law to honor his memory.
“My son’s a victim, yes, but my son’s a hero and I want my son remembered as a hero, not a victim,” said Markie’s father, Mark Mason.
Burley left the state after allegedly killing Markie and was finally handcuffed more than nine hours after the little boy’s death.
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“He just wasn’t strong enough,” Mark said. “How can an 8-year-old fight a 43-year-old man with a knife?”
Burley was released from prison on parole in March 2019, just a few months before Markie’s death.
But it is what Burley did inside the prison that sparked “Markie’s Law.”
“Markie’s Law is set up on a very basic principle and that is that violent criminals should remain behind bars,” Rep. Aaron Bernstein said.
Bernstein drafted the bill in Markie’s honor, wanting to keep violent offenders behind bars longer if they are convicted of a violent crime while in jail.
“If a prisoner commits an act of violence behind bars, they should be held accountable for that. And it would add two years onto their minimum sentence,” Rep. Bernstein said.
Two years to change, two years to get help, two years Markie didn’t get.
“Keith Burley was released from prison after committing numerous violent crimes behind bars,” Rep. Bernstein said. “We know that if this law was in place, he would have never of been out”
The bill passed the state House and a state Senate committee. If all goes as Bernstine plans, the bill could soon reach the governor’s desk.
“We’re hopeful it gets done before summer break,” Rep. Bernstein said. “But if not, right when we come back in September, we look for this to be passed. And hopefully, the governor will sign this into law.”
The Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office is seeking the death penalty in the case against Burley. He’s due back in court this August. Burley’s defense attorney did not respond to our request for comment by news time.