Guilty verdict, life sentence for man who stabbed disabled woman to death

A man who had been out of prison less than 6 months before stabbing a disabled woman in the neck was found guilty as charged of Second-Degree Murder Wednesday, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

A Bay County jury took about 20 minutes to reach its verdict on William Jacob Burks, 37, in the Feb. 13, 2021, stabbing death of Cynthia A. Black, 64, in her Southport home.

Prosecutor Peter Overstreet successfully argued that defense attempts to mitigate the homicide by saying the defendant was delusional and on a methamphetamine binge were not based on the law. He said Burks knew what he was doing before, during and after the stabbing, and voluntary intoxication is not a defense in Florida.

“Life is about choices, the choices we make every day,” Overstreet told jurors. “We get out of bed, we choose to brush our teeth or not brush our teeth. Maybe we get a cavity, maybe we don’t. We suffer the consequences of the actions and choices we make every, single, day.

“When William Burks decided he was going to do methamphetamine for 5 or 7 days and go on a bender, there were consequences to that action,” Overstreet continued. “And now he’s asking you to find him guilty of a (lesser charge), because he knew he couldn’t come in here and say, ‘I didn’t do it.’ Hold Mr. Burks responsible, find him guilty of Second-Degree Murder.”

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Circuit Court Judge Dustin Stephenson agreed with Overstreet that the defendant qualified for an enhanced sentenced under Florida’s Prison Release Reoffender statute, which meant a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.

“The words we’ve heard today were powerful,” Judge Stephenson said of victim impact statements from Black’s family. “The words we heard in testimony during the trial were powerful. This appears to be an absolutely senseless killing. Absolutely senseless. I don’t know what other words to use.”

Prosecutor Peter Overstreet addresses jurors while second chair Ali Elsagga takes notes in Circuit Judge Dustin Stephenson’s courtroom.

Overstreet, with Prosecutor Ali Elsagga assisting, presented witnesses and evidence that proved the defendant’s girlfriend was the victim’s caretaker and all lived at the victim’s residence.

According to testimony, the defendant had been using methamphetamine for days and was making bacon the morning of Feb. 13, 2021, when a spot of hot grease landed on him. His girlfriend said he walked into the bathroom where the victim was in a handicapped-accessible seat and stabbed her in the throat.

Medical Examiner Dr. Jay Radtke, one of 11 witnesses called by the State, testified that the resulting large wound struck both the jugular and carotid arteries, and was fatal.

The defendant fled the house, stole a truck, abandoned it, and ultimately was found hiding in the woods a few miles up the road. He admitted stabbing the victim both to the deputies who captured him and Sheriff’s Office investigator Jake Roberts, who interviewed him.

The defendant claimed the victim and others had abused his son; the evidence showed there had been no abuse.

After the verdict, the victim’s sister addressed the court to ask for the maximum sentence. Carla Madinger said she suffers from anxiety, nightmares, and depression since the murder.

She said her sister, disabled by a stroke, was unable to defend herself when attacked.

The defendant, left, watches as the jury is shown video of the defendant being placed in an ambulance after his capture.

“Since she could not do these things, an able-bodied man took her life, a person who she had to trust, someone she had to depend on, and someone that she could not get away from,” she said. “I cannot imagine what Cindy felt, the fear she must have experienced … nor the horror she must have known knowing she was about to die and there was nothing she could do.”

Basford thanked the Bay County Sheriff’s Office both for its handling of the investigation and crime scene, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement DNA and biology experts who testified, and witnesses from both the neighborhood and the hospital who testified.

For additional information, contact Mike Cazalas at, or call 850-381-7454.