Lawyers ask for second evaluation in capital murder case

Staff report


Lawyers for a man facing the death penalty in a 2014 murder asked a judge Thursday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for a second competency evaluation for their client.

Judge John Durkin is expected to approve the request for attorneys representing Ricki Williams, 21, of Lansdowne Boulevard, who could face the death penalty if convicted of the June 23, 2014, killing of Gina Burger, 16, in Austintown.

According to police reports, Gina had gone missing from an apartment in the Compass West complex in Austintown and her body was discovered in a landfill in Grove City, Pa., a few days later. She died from a stab wound to the chest.

A criminal complaint said Williams admitted to authorities he stabbed Gina and put her body in a playpen to transport it to a trash receptacle at the apartment complex.

He faces eight felony counts in connection with her death, including a charge of aggravated murder.

During a brief hearing, Judge Durkin said an evaluation of Williams had been completed and he had been deemed competent to stand trial. His lawyers, Tom Zena and Doug Taylor, however, asked for a second opinion. They said they do not agree with the evaluation.

“We do not accept these findings,” Zena said.

Williams’ defense team will consult with a different specialist and is expected to submit a motion next week to have that specialist do a second evaluation on Williams.

If a defendant is found incompetent to stand trial, he is then placed in a facility where he can be treated until his competency can be restored.

If that process cannot be completed within a year, a defendant is then held in a treatment facility for the length of the sentence for the crime the defendant is accused of committing.

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