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Man convicted of fatally stabbing 8-year-old boy in Lawrence County gets 2 consecutive life sentences

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NEW CASTLE, Pa. (KDKA) -- The man convicted of stabbing an 8-year-old boy to death in Lawrence County received two consecutive life sentences. 

A jury found 47-year-old Keith Burley guilty last month on counts of criminal homicide, simple assault and kidnapping to inflict injury and terror in the death of Mark "Markie" Mason after just 15 minutes of deliberation. Burley was sentenced on Tuesday, the Lawrence County district attorney said. 

Police said Burley was arguing with his girlfriend, Mason's mom, in a car when it turned physical in July of 2019. Police said the woman got out of her car, then Burley drove away with her children inside to a home on High Street in Union Township, where he stabbed Mason in front of the boy's 7-year-old brother. 

In a victim impact statement, Markie Mason's dad Mark Mason said the boy gave his life protecting his younger brother. 

"More things than just Markie's life was taken that night," he wrote. "Over the last 4 years, we have listened to everyone speak of who Markie left behind, which is so much more than just his mother, his brother, and me. He left behind another mother, another 5 siblings through me, and 2 siblings on his mother's side, and all his aunts, uncles, and extended family. Keith's actions that night forever changed their lives, as well." 

He said after the boy's death, they were left trying to guide their other children through grief and find a way through life without him. 

"People have often made comments to us like 'I don't know how you do it, I could never handle it,' but what choice did we have?" he wrote. 

At 23 years old, Burley pleaded guilty to a third-degree murder charge in the shooting death of 36-year-old Randell Kevin Stewart. He was sentenced to 18 to 36 years and was twice charged in prison for assaulting other inmates. 

Burley was paroled after serving more than the minimum time. 

Three months later, he was charged with kidnapping and stabbing the boy to death. 

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