Prosecutors may pursue death penalty in stabbing of Ohio girl, 16

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Prosecutors in Mahoning County, Ohio, said they might seek the death penalty against a man accused of fatally stabbing a 16-year-old Ohio girl, whose body was discovered days later in a Mercer County landfill.

Ricki D. Williams IV, 18, killed Gina Burger of Austintown, Ohio, June 23, then dumped her body in a baby’s playpen that he trashed in a dumpster outside her apartment building, police said in court documents released Wednesday. He was arraigned Wednesday morning on murder and related charges.

“There is no motive. There’s none,” said Ken Cardinal, Mahoning County assistant prosecutor. “He went to the apartment to kill somebody. He just happened to run across this girl first.”

Mr. Cardinal said Mr. Williams grabbed Gina by the arm just after she left her unit at the Compass West apartment complex then started beating on the door of another apartment. Resident Ronisha Johnson, who could only see Gina on her doorstep, started opening the door, and Mr. Williams forced his way in, Mr. Cardinal said.

Mr. Williams and Gina were acquaintances, and Gina had babysat for Ms. Johnson, Mr. Cardinal said. Mr. Williams had been previously ordered to stay away from the complex but would sometimes visit Ms. Johnson, Mr. Cardinal said, adding that they were not romantically involved.

According to the police affidavit, Mr. Williams immediately started beating Ms. Johnson and forced both women into a bedroom where Mr. Williams “made comments about ‘putting them both in the trunk’ and forcing them to pose together hugging,” police wrote. He then forced them into the kitchen, allowed them to “have a last cigarette” and got out gloves for Ms. Johnson and himself, the affidavit said.

Ms. Johnson told police Mr. Williams ordered her to stab Gina. Ms. Johnson refused, saying she’d rather stab herself, and Mr. Williams grabbed the knife and stabbed the girl, the affidavit said.

The pair then placed Gina’s body in Ms. Johnson’s son’s Pack 'n Play and hauled it to the complex’s dumpster, police wrote.

Authorities said the trash from that complex is taken to the landfill in Mercer County.

In the course of the investigation, detectives found the phrase “KILL FO FUN” carved into the stairwell hallway outside Ms. Johnson’s apartment and what appeared to be three knife holes in the drywall, the affidavit said.

Ms. Johnson told police that Mr. Williams forced her to help dispose of Gina’s body and that she did so because she feared he would kill her. She has not been charged.

“The detectives are firmly convinced that she was in fear of her life,” Mr. Cardinal said.

Mr. Williams, who is homeless, has a history of violence, including felony assault cases in juvenile and adult courts, Mr. Cardinal said.


Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1944. First Published July 2, 2014 12:00 AM


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