Hearing held in Williams death penalty case

Staff report


Judge John Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court heard testimony to determine whether a man charged in the 2014 death of an Austintown teen is competent to stand trial.

The judge heard testimony Thursday to determine if Ricki Williams, 21, of Lans-downe Boulevard, can assist in his defense.

Williams’ attorneys asked for an evaluation last spring to determine if he was competent. One psychologist tried to interview Williams but could not make a determination if he was competent because he thought Williams may have been “malingering.”

Williams was placed in a mental-health facility for 20 days and underwent another evaluation, where he was found competent to stand trial. After that evaluation, Williams’ attorneys asked for another evaluation, which found he was incompetent to stand trial.

The judge will issue a ruling at a later date.

Williams is charged with eight felonies, including two counts of aggravated murder and two counts of aggravated burglary, in connection with the June 23, 2014, killing of 16-year-old Gina Burger 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. If convicted, Williams could face the death penalty.

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