ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)–The prison inmate convicted of killing a corrections officer will spend the rest of his life in prison but will not be put to death.
Weijia Jiang has reaction to the sentence from the victim’s family.
The complicated deliberations lasted for a week, and the victim’s family is relieved to have a sentence– even though it’s not the capital punishment they hoped for.
Family members of Cpl. David McGuinn embraced each other after hearing his killer will die behind bars.
“It does put some closure on it. Of course, it’s going to be a lot of time before I could move past that,” said Crystal Damore, McGuinn’s sister.
After deliberating for a week, jurors sentenced Lee Stephens, 32, to life in prison without the possibility of parole. They could have given him the death penalty.
“It is a severe, long lasting draconian punishment. Make no mistake about that. This was not a slap on the wrist,” said Gary Proctor, Stephens’ lawyer.
In 2006, Stephens murdered McGuinn inside the now-closed Maryland House of Correction in Jessup.
McGuinn was working as an officer at the time. Stephens was serving a life sentence for another murder.
The case marks the first time prosecutors used DNA evidence to pursue the death penalty under Maryland’s new capital punishment law.
Jurors had to weigh the crime against a long list of mitigating factors. Jurors came up with several reasons of their own not to give Stephens the death penalty. They wrote about his violent childhood, filled with poverty and sexual abuse.
Stephens’ mother and sister would not comment.
Jurors also said the state failed to provide a safe prison. For the McGuinn family, no explanation is enough.
“The only question I have is ‘Why?’ I’m pretty sure if I asked him he would never have the answer,” said Shayna McGuinn, victim’s daughter.
“I try to replace ugly memories with fond memories of him,” said Crystal Damore, McGuinn’s sister.
Even though Stephens was already serving a life sentence, back then he was eligible for parole. Now he’ll die in prison.
Another inmate is charged in this case. He’ll have a hearing next month to determine if he’s competent to stand trial.