ALBANY, N.Y. — The man who brutally beat a 63-year-old city woman and left her for dead outside her downtown apartment complex, admitted to the crime in county court on Thursday.
Gerard Burks, 39 of Schenectady, will spend the next 18 or 19 years to life in prison as part of a plea deal. Burks pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and waived his right to appeal, acknowledging that he came upon Lori Milks outside the South Mall Tower apartments in the early hours of November 5 last year.
For reasons unknown, Burks unleashed a furious attack on Milks that left her with a cracked skull and fractured spine. The victim, who lived inside the nearby apartment complex, was rescued shortly after the attack and later died in the hospital. Burks was apprehended by police shortly after the assault.
"This is, without question, the most provable murder case I have ever seen," said Burks' defense attorney Terry Kindlon, who has represented such high-profile murder defendants as Christopher Porco. Kindlon said the evidence was so overwhelming, there was no use mounting a defense.
"There were street videos that were graphic and conclusive; there was actually an eyewitness on the eighth floor," Kindlon said. "There were simply no facts that supported a defense, whatsoever."
The acting chief of the Albany Police, Robert Sears, was glad to hear it.
"For a defense attorney to say that ... it really means something," said Sears, who credited his officers and detectives for a quick and comprehensive response.
"We're hoping that he never gets out of prison again," Sears said of Burks, who will be sentenced on July 13th.
The South Mall Towers management celebrated Lori Milks' life on Thursday by installing a bird bath in her honor. Milks was an avid birdwatcher and was believed to have been filling an outdoor feeder on the morning of the attack.
The new birdbath is accompanied by a small garden banner, featuring cardinals.
"People believe that if a cardinal flies past you, that's someone from heaven coming to say 'hi' to you," said South Mall Towers director Kim Hansen. "That's how we choose to remember Lori: her life, not how she passed away."