Jury Will Decide If Inmate Who Killed Guard Will Get Death Penalty

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Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The killer of a Maryland prison guard will soon find out if he will be put to death.

Mike Schuh has more.

A new ruling by Maryland’s highest court means it’s harder to sentence someone to death but inmate and killer Lee Stephens meets those criteria.

A jury of 12 people inside the courthouse will soon decide if two-time murderer Lee Stephens will be allowed to continue living. Nearly six years ago in Jessup, Stephens stabbed corrections officer David McGuinn to death. Since then, the Court of Appeals changed the rules in death penalty cases. Now, besides all the evidence needed to convict, prosecutors have to clear two more hurdles. Is the murderer over 18, is it proven he committed the murder and is there a DNA link to the murder?

Stephens was in prison because he killed a man in an Eastern Shore nightclub in 1997. Now that he’s been found guilty of killing McGuinn, the jury is left with three options: death, life without parole and life in prison.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the jury heard a victim’s impact statement from McGuinn’s sister. She answered the phone when Maryland officials were calling to tell her of her brother’s death. She called that “gut-wrenching” and living with it since like a nightmare from which she cannot wake.

Before court broke, the defense says it will take the rest of the week presenting three to five mitigating witnesses.

The prosecutor’s office now believes the jury will decide Stephens’ fate beginning on Tuesday.

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