Mom of Austintown murder victim calls killer ‘waste of oxygen’

Michelle Bennett, Gina Burger's adoptive mother, didn't mince words in court about the man who killed her daughter

If you would like to watch Burger’s adoptive mother’s statement in court, click here.


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The adoptive mother of an Austintown murder victim told a judge that she wanted her daughter’s killer to die in prison.

She may have gotten her wish.

A judge sentenced 22-year-old Ricki Williams to 62 years to life in prison on Thursday.

Williams pleaded guilty to aggravated murder in the 2014 stabbing death of 16-year-old Gina Burger. He also pleaded guilty to other charges, including aggravated burglary, kidnapping and tampering with evidence.

Michelle Bennett, Burger’s adoptive mother, didn’t mince words in court about the man who killed her daughter. She came from her home in Texas to face him.

“You’re a waste of oxygen, and I hope someone will stop that oxygen while you’re in prison,” she said.

Prosecutors say Burger’s body was tossed into a dumpster behind Compass West apartments in Austintown. She was found days later at a landfill near Grove City, Pennsylvania.

As part of Thursday’s sentencing, prosecutors read a statement from another woman who was with Burger when she died. Authorities say Williams held the two captive for days at the Compass West apartments in Austintown, despite Burger’s pleas to be released.

“He took my pillow case off my pillow and put it over her head. She started crying, saying, ‘Please don’t do this,'” read Mahoning County Assistant Prosecutor Dawn Cantalamessa.

Prosecutors say Williams stabbed Burger and forced the other woman to help him put the victim’s body in a portable crib and toss it into a garbage dumpster.

Before sentencing, a Columbus psychologist told the court that he tested Williams and found him to be anti-social, drug-addicted and narcissistic. He blamed much of his trouble on what he called a chaotic family life.

“Ricki emerged into adulthood when he turned 18 as a very badly damaged product of a highly unstable chaotic family environment,” said Dr. Jeff Smalldon.

For his part, Williams still insists that he’s innocent and that he only took a deal with prosecutors to avoid a possible death sentence if he had gone to trial.

“I didn’t kill that girl, Judge Durkin. I just want to put that on the record,” Williams said. “I didn’t do it, and I’m sticking with it.”

Judge John Durkin took issue with that, saying the evidence shows that Williams committed the crimes.

Gina Burger

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