A man on trial for the stabbing death of a correctional officer was found guilty of 1st-degree murder Thursday afternoon, making him eligible for the death penalty.
But the jury found Lee Edward Stephens, 32, not guilty of conspiracy to commit the 2006 murder of Cpl. David McGuinn at the former House of Correction in Jessup.
The verdict was read at 3:15 p.m. in a packed court room before Judge Paul A. Hackner in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court in Annapolis.
Wearing black pants, a dark button down, and with his hair in long, thin braids, Stephens looked forward and showed no emotion as the verdict was read. His family, seated just rows behind Stephens, shook their heads.
McGuinn’s mother, daughter, sister and brother hugged prosecutors outside the courtroom. They will not comment until sentencing.
The jury and 5 alternates will return to court at 9 a.m. on Monday. At that time, Stephens will decide whether he wants the judge or jurors to determine his fate.
If Stephens is sentenced to death, it would be the 1st time since Maryland’s law changed to reserve capital punishment for murders in which there is a videotaped confession or biological evidence – in this case, McGuinn’s blood found on Stephens’ clothes.
At trial, Stephens’ defense argued it was no surprise that blood was found on Stephens’ boots, boxer shorts and undershirt, given blood was spread throughout the prison tier after the attack.