ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—Anne Arundel County jurors hold a man’s life in their hands, as they decide whether Lee Stephens should be put to death for killing a corrections officer.
Weijia Jiang has the last-minute plea for mercy from the defense.
The defense first requested a mistrial, which the judge rejected. So the jury continued to deliberate for several hours, but they have yet to make a decision.
Soon Lee Stephens, 32, will learn if he’ll live or die.
Since late Wednesday, the same jury that convicted him of first-degree murder has been deciding how he’ll pay for it.
In 2006, Stephens fatally stabbed Cpl. David McGuinn, 42, inside the now closed Maryland House of Correction in Jessup.
McGuinn was a correctional officer at the time. Stephens was facing a life sentence for another murder.
He could be the first person to receive the death penalty under Maryland’s new more rigid capital punishment law, implemented in 2009.
DNA evidence linking Stephens to the crime makes him eligible.
Jurors could also hand out a sentence of life with or without the possibility of parole.
On Thursday, Stephens’ lawyer called for a mistrial, claiming he wasn’t allowed enough time to make closing arguments during the sentencing phase. The judge denied the request.
The jury wrapped up and will resume 9 a.m. Friday.
Another inmate is also charged in this case. A hearing to determine if he’s competent to stand trial is scheduled in April.