Pitcairn Murderer Sentenced to Life in Prison
John Wagner, who was convicted of killing Hopkins researcher Stephen Pitcairn, maintained his innocence before sentencing.
Beneath the statue of Cecilius Calvert along St. Paul Street, at the rear of the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse, the family of Stephen Pitcairn exchanged hugs and said good-bye after making their final appearance in a Baltimore courtroom.
On Friday John Wagner, the man convicted of killing Stephen Pitcairn, was sentenced to life plus 20 years in prison by Judge Charles Peters. In August a jury convicted Wagner, 38, of stabbing and killing Stephen Pitcairn in the 2600 block of St. Paul Street in Charles Village in July 2010.
“Mr. Wagner I’m showing you the same mercy you showed Mr. Pitcairn,” Peters said before handing down the maximum sentence allowed by law.
Stephen Pitcairn’s mother Gwen Pitcairn, and one of his sisters, Emily Pitcairn, testified at the sentencing.
“Words can’t describe how this has impacted my life,” Gwen Pitcairn said.
Gwen Pitcairn was on the telephone with her son when Wagner and his girlfriend Lavelva Merritt approached, robbed and stabbed Stephen Pitcairn. Merritt received a plea deal in exchange for her testimony against Wagner. Merritt has not yet been sentenced.
Gwen Pitcairn described her son as a sweet, kind and beautiful person who couldn’t wait to go to medical school to develop a cure for cancer.
“He was going to make a difference,” Gwen Pitcairn said.
By contrast she called Wagner, who was seated just a few feet away, “evil”.
Emily Pitcairn, who spoke between sobs, said Stephen Pitcairn’s murder had irrevocably altered her family.
“Our whole family has been shattered. The family I used to have isn’t there anymore,” Emily Pitcairn said.
Wagner’s attorney Gregory Fischer asked Peters for leniency. He described how one of Wagner’s eight sisters spoke about Wagner’s abusive parents, struggles with depression and his efforts to defend his siblings while growing up.
“Mr. Wagner is not the monster he’s being made out to be,” Fischer said.
Wagner, who was brought to the courthouse about two hours after he was scheduled to appear, said that he didn’t event want to participate in the sentencing.
“Because I believe justice wasn’t served in these proceedings,” Wagner said.
Wagner said he understands the loss and pain felt by Pitcairn’s family, but that the real killer was still free.
But Peters called the murder “utterly pointless and senseless” before sentencing Wagner to life in prison for the felony murder conviction and 20 years to serve consecutively for the conviction for the conspiracy to rob with a dangerous weapon.