Woman Gets 15 Years In Johns Hopkins Researcher’s Death

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The second person involved in the murder of a Johns Hopkins researcher found out how long she’ll be behind bars.

Andrea Fujii tells us what she had to say for herself in court.

Lavelva Merritt will spend 15 years in prison — a 30-year sentence, 15 of which were suspended — for her role in the death of Stephen Pitcairn.

“For the family of Stephen Pitcairn, this marks the end of a terrible ordeal and a terrible tragedy,” said State’s Attorney Greg Bernstein.

The 23-year-old Johns Hopkins researcher was walking down St. Paul Street in July 2010 when John Wagner and Merritt robbed him. Wagner then stabbed Pitcairn and Merritt punched him.

In October, Wagner was sentenced to life plus 20 years. In exchange for Merritt’s testimony against him, she only faced conspiracy and robbery charges.

“In as much as she was a willing participant, she got the sentence she deserved,” Bernstein said.

But neighbors in Charles Village — where Pitcairn was killed — say she deserves more.

“I thought it was a little ridiculous. I mean, they were in it together so they should get the same sentence it seems like,” said Alex Pirtle.

“I thought they would be in it together. I was told both were responsible,” said Frank Richardson, neighbor.

In court, Merritt said she’s just as guilty as John Wagner, but she is not a cold-hearted person. The judge didn’t buy it.

After Merritt’s 15 years, the judge said she’ll be watching for any probation violation to impose the full 15-year suspended sentence.

Merritt will be eligible for parole after seven and a half years.

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