Reporting Meghan McCorkell
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Justice for the family of a Johns Hopkins researcher killed last summer. A jury found John Wagner guilty in the murder of Stephen Pitcairn.
Meghan McCorkell has the reaction to the verdict.
Charles Village was rocked by the killing of Stephen Pitcairn. Signs of the crime are still evident there. But Thursday, there’s a sigh of relief as his killer is put behind bars.
John Wagner was shackled and surrounded by police as he left court, and he could be that way for the rest of life.
“Justice is served,” said Stephen Pitcairn’s father as he walked out of the courthouse.
It’s the end of an emotional trial for the family of Stephen Pitcairn. The 23-year old was stabbed to death last summer during a robbery in Charles Village. Fresh flowers mark the spot where he died. Neighbors say they’re relieved his killer is behind bars.
“I’m really happy about it,” said Rob Holthause, a resident of Charles Village. “I’m glad that he got what was coming to him because it’s just senseless.”
“I just wish people wouldn’t harm each other,” Gregory Vershbow said. “I mean, I’m glad that he’s off the streets.”
Jurors say overwhelming evidence against Wagner led to the conviction.
“I don’t think it was just one individual piece,” said the jury foreman. “I think it was several.”
Stephen Pitcairn’s blood was found on John Wagner’s front door and on a knife found inside. The security camera around the block also obtained a key piece of evidence.
It captured John Wagner and his girlfriend Lavelva Merritt running away from the crime scene toward their Maryland Avenue apartment. Lavelva Merritt testified against Wagner.
“These kind of crimes happen very rarely around here,” Vinny Demarco, another resident of Charles Village, said. “It’s a safe neighborhood and it will continue to be that way.”
The community of Charles Village is working to restore that sense of safety. But they will never forget what happened here.
It took the jury less than three hours to convict John Wagner.
Defense attorneys say they plan to appeal the conviction.
Wagner will be sentenced in October. The city state’s attorney tells WJZ he will seek life in prison.