Case Testing Maryland's New Death Penalty Law Ends with Life Sentence

A case testing new death penalty statutes in Maryland has recently concluded. The new statutes limited when the death penalty could be sought to cases of first degree murder in which there is DNA or other biological evidence linking the defendant to a murder, a video-taped confession by the defendant, or a video linking the defendant to the murder. Lee Edward Stephens, who was convicted of the fatal stabbing of Cpl. David McGuinn, was spared the death penalty, and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. McGuinn’s blood was found on Stephens’ clothes, meeting the biological evidence criteria necessary to seek the death penalty. The jurors, who deliberated for six days, cited Stephens’ impoverished upbringing, unaddressed learning disability and low IQ, and sexual abuse he endured as a child as reasons for sparing his life. Assistant State’s Attorney Sandra Howell said that the sentence was “a major step forward toward justice for Cpl. David McGuinn.” Janice McGuinn, the victim’s mother, is also satisfied with the verdict, saying that her son was “a firm believer in the justice system and would be satisfied with the outcome.”

(H. Rawlyk, “Inmate spared from death penalty,” The Annapolis Capital, February 29, 2012). See Life Without Parole.