Youngstown man given 15 years

YOUNGSTOWN – Ursula Burke said her son and nephew were at the wrong place at the wrong time when they were suffocated and left in a burning SUV on the banks of the Mahoning River.

”They weren’t bad boys. They were just around bad people on bad days,” Burke told Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge Maureen Sweeney.

Burke was speaking at the plea hearing and sentencing for 28-year-old Kenneth Moncrief Wednesday, the last of three men charged in the deaths of her son, Darry Woods-Burt, 19, and Jaron Roland, 20, who were found on the river Aug. 9, 2009.

”I hope you burn in hell,” she told Moncrief.

Moncrief apologized just before he was sentenced: ”I’m sorry for the things that happened.”

Moncrief entered guilty pleas to two charges of murder, two counts of kidnapping, and counts of arson and aggravated robbery, and he received a prison sentence of 15 years. Jury selection in his trial was slated to begin Wednesday.

Later Tuesday afternoon, Joseph Moreland, 30, pleaded guilty to similar charges plus involuntary manslaughter and aggravated robbery for another murder in 2009, and was sentenced to 17 years in prison.

In October, a third person, Lorenza Barnette, 29, was sentenced to life in prison for similar charges after he was convicted by a jury.

Burke said she believes Moncrief should receive a longer sentence and she told Sweeney about how she has suffered since her son was killed.

”I will never be right. Time will never be the same,” Burke said.

Nicky Burke, who is Roland’s mother, said she has tried to move on since her son and nephew were killed. She said she focuses on her grandchildren. She said she has prayed a lot in the years since and was trying not to be angry.

”Part of me feels we should’ve went to trial, and part of me feels I can’t go through a trial again,” Nicky Burke said. ”I guess this is justice and I’m OK with that.”

At Barnette’s trial, jurors heard how Woods-Burt and Roland were bound with duct tape before having garbage bags placed over their heads, which were also bound by duct tape, inside a Fairgreen Avenue home.

After the two died, their bodies were put in an SUV, which was taken to the banks of the Mahoning River and set on fire. A fisherman found the vehicle and called the fire department. Firefighters found the bodies.

Witnesses testified that there was a crowd in the home where the two were suffocated and that they both begged for air before they died. One of them managed to chew through the tape that bound his bag, so another bag was placed on his head and that bag was tightly bound.

The victims were murdered because they were members of a North Side gang who were thought to be informing members of a rival East Side gang, according to trial testimony.