Prosecutors give Burke juvenile record in sentencing recommendation

By Ed Runyan


Trumbull County prosecutors filed a motion Monday asking that murderer Austin Burke get a sentence that prevents him from ever getting out of prison.

Judge Andrew Logan of common pleas court is to sentence Burke at 11 a.m. next Tuesday.

Burke, 19, of Bristolville, was convicted at trial of the June 12, 2017, aggravated murder and aggravated robbery of Brandon Sample, 22, and the June 20 aggravated robbery of the Pizza Joe’s restaurant in Cortland.

He also pleaded guilty Feb. 8 to possessing an improvised weapon in the county jail and could get 11 years in prison for that in a separate case.

The filing says Burke’s lengthy juvenile record, the Bristol and Cortland crimes last summer and the jail charge show that “lifetime incarceration must occur to prohibit [him] from victimizing and killing more innocent victims.”

Burke “has in 19 years on earth done nothing even remotely indicating that he can become a productive member of society,” Chris Becker, assistant county prosecutor, said in the filing.

“Instead he has stolen, burglarized, robbed and murdered – all with increasing viciousness and violence and increasingly ... committing crimes with guns and other weapons.”

Burke had only been out of an Ohio Department of Youth Services juvenile facility three weeks when he killed Sample on Hatchet Man Road in the Grand River wildlife area in Bristol Township, Becker said.

Sample’s abandoned car was found the next morning along the Niles bike trail, and multiple juvenile witnesses told a Warren police detective Burke told them he killed Sample on Hatchet Man Road.

Burke had been in juvenile facilities for breaking and entering, inducing panic, and receiving stolen property (two times) and aggravated burglary, Becker said.

One of his juvenile crimes was a Dec. 4, 2014, burglary at a home on East Main Street in Girard in which nine firearms and other items were stolen, according to a Girard police report obtained by The Vindicator.

Becker said if Judge Logan chooses not to give Burke the maximum of life with no parole, he would ask that Burke get life in prison with parole eligibility after 47 years.

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