BALTIMORE - Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's Reaction:
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake talked about Stephen Pitcairn's murder Wednesday. She says, "A senseless tragedy and an example of a breakdown of the system ... I'm certain like everyone I'm looking into the circumstances behind the release and try to learn if there is anything that could have been done better and differently on my part.. I am certainly making sure that we have all the police officers that we need on the street to work in cooperation with the community to make sure they are vigilant in the neighborhoods where people walk at night."
Researcher Stabbed to Death
Stephen Pitcairn should have turned 24 Tuesday.
Police say it was John Wagner and his wife Levelva who robbed then murdered the Johns Hopkins researcher Sunday night stabbing him in the chest.
"It's frustrating for us. This is a tragic, tragic death of a brilliant young scholar. It is upsetting for each of us here, it is upsetting for prosecutors who work very hard to keep individuals like this behind bars," said Baltimore City State’s Attorneys Office spokesperson Margaret Burns.
But Wagner, it seems, should never have had the chance. The now 34 year old murder suspect has a checkered and documented past seemingly clearing each criminal hurdle along the way.
Most recently is a robbery on West Mulberry Street back in April. Police say the guy in the Phillies cap appearing on the CCTV video feed is Wagner helping to rob a victim outside a gas station.
A jury never saw the video or the written statement from the victim. The state's attorney's office dropped the case saying the victim refused to testify for fear Wagner was part of a gang.
"He was adamant that he would not come to court for this particular case. Ultimately prosecutors had to drop that case," said Burns.
That was this year; Wagner's criminal trail starts in 2008.
Wagner pleaded guilty to a domestic violence assault receiving an eight year suspended sentence. He got probation; a privilege the courts call it, but in just under a year, Wagner violated his probation several times. He was twice found guilty, once dismissed.
The Honorable John Howard never serving any part of the eight years hanging over Wagner's head. But according to court records, Wagner violated his probation a fourth time.
Parole and probation argued for yet another warrant against Wagner on July 7th of this year...it was finally signed last Thursday, July 22nd, a mere three days before police say Wagner stabbed Pitcairn killing the researcher just two days before he would turn 24.
Wagner will have a bail review tomorrow. His wife and police say his accomplice was arraigned today and is being held without bail.
We called Judge Howard for a reaction to this story but have not received a call back.
UPDATE: Lavelva Merritt Wagner was denied bail. John Wagner expected for bail review tomorrow.
It was a nice night, so 23 year old Steven Pitcairn decided to walk from Penn Station to his apartment on Saint Paul Street.
He had just come back on a bus trip to New York to visit friends. He was almost home.
He was walking to his apartment in the 3000 block of Saint Paul Street when a black man and female suspect approached him. Our victim was talking to his mother at the time of the robbery and she was on the line at the time of the incident." City Police Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says. "And she heard at least the robbery component so makes this very difficult for detectives when something like this happens."
A man who lives on the street heard a struggle outside his window, and yelled out. The two suspects ran from the scene, after stabbing Pitcairn . The man ran to Stephen Pitcairn.
‘He was bleeding a lot, he was on his stomach, and he was bleeding a lot, yeah,’ said the man, who did not want to be identified.
He said he knew Pitcairn was badly hurt -- and Pitcairn knew it too. ‘He was trying to and I told him don't try to talk and I told him to just hang in there and I prayed for him and I told him I was praying for him.’
But Pitcairn died before the ambulance arrived. ‘It was gut-wrenching. It was very very hard,’ he said.
The man said he was relieved that police worked so quickly -- but he's still shaken by the experience. ‘I hope that they have the right person and I hope that they have people locked up so they won't do this to anybody else,’ he said.
Pitcairn was an interesting young man.
Described as very very bright, he spent a year in Japan doing medical research and was doing the same thing at Johns Hopkins.
But he had larger goals.
He was promoted this year and worked on a number of projects including breast cancer and another project on wound care. Hopkins University Spokesman Dennis O’Shea told ABC 2 News. He intended apply to medical school a year from now and was very promising young man very hard working young man."
The neighborhood is stunned by what happened.
It truly is a quiet place and is surrounded by security from city police and Johns Hopkins University.
Pitcairn’s death is a waste of potential, all for a wallet with credit cards, a little bit of cash and a cell phone.
"We're very concerned about it people are very fearful now and the ones that we spoke with this morning have expressed a great deal of concern so something has to be done." Peabody Heights Homeowners Alliance President Christian Wilson says.
Both John Wagner and Lavelva Merritt Wagner have been charged with first degree murder in the case. Police say they believe this was an isolated incident.
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