A cry went up as a judge handed down a life sentence with no parole Thursday for murderer Ryan Dillon. Friends of his mother, victim Vicky Burks, exchanged hugs and wiped tears from their eyes.
Dillon, a 26-year-old Moorefield Twp. resident, will spend the rest of his life behind bars for beating Burks to death, and he received the news alone, staring stonily ahead. During the five-day trial, he had no supporters in the courtroom other than his attorney — no friends, no family. Clark County Prosecutor Andy Wilson remarked it was the only case he could recall not seeing someone there who cared about the defendant.
“The tragic part of this case is, the only person who probably would have come to support him, he hated and he ended up killing,” Wilson said.
Dillon was convicted by a jury last week on charges of aggravated murder, felony murder, murder, tampering with evidence and receiving stolen property. He killed his mother May 9, 2012, by repeatedly bashing her in the head with a tee-ball bat. Investigators said the attack was so ferocious, Dillon fractured Burks’ hands as she tried to cover herself, and he left dents in the floor when his swings missed. He then dumped her body down the cellar stairs, cleaned up the blood and fled to Wisconsin in a stolen pickup truck.
Dillon denied requests by the Springfield News-Sun for a jailhouse interview and made no remarks on his own behalf prior to sentencing. His attorney, Shawn Murphy, repeated his client’s private profession of innocence and asked for mercy for the young man who’s battled mental illness for years.
Dillon has been diagnosed as bi-polar, suffering from depression, and told doctors he could hear voices, but two separate examinations deemed him fit to stand trial. Wilson also argued Dillon’s actions following the killing showed clear thought and calculation: he cleaned up the crime scene, fled the state and lied to authorities about his identity when questioned.
Three deputies surrounded Dillon as Judge Douglas Rastatter sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He did grant him concurrent sentences on the tampering with evidence and receiving stolen property charges, both of which he also received the maximum punishment for a total of 4.5 years.
The dozen women who’ve attended every day of the trial in honor of Burks wore buttons with her photo Thursday. They said the sentence was satisfying, but they wondered how Burks herself would have reacted. Prior to her death, she wrote a letter to the court expressing her difficulty reconciling her love for her son with Dillon’s admission that if he ever went back to jail he would kill her.
“Why? Why would you do that to your mother?” friend Martha Tackett asked. “She actually loved him to death.”