An Honest Question
[We were out] “hunting to rob someone,” Lavelva Merritt, alleged murderer
A promising young researcher at the Johns Hopkins University was four blocks from his apartment in Baltimore, Maryland, when two blacks allegedly murdered him for money and a cell phone.
Police say 23-year-old Stephen Pitcairn was talking to his mother on his iPhone when a man and woman demanded money. He gave them his wallet, and received a knife in the chest. His mother heard the robbery and murder over the phone.
“This was a guy who just had a whole future in front of him. You knew he was going to do great things.”—Dr. Gregg Semenza, of the Institute for Genetic Medicine
Police arrested and charged Lavelva Merritt, 24, who has a long history of drug-related arrests and convictions, and John Alexander Wagner, 34, who has robbery and assault charges but never received any punishment more than time served, even though he violated probation repeatedly.
We were out “hunting to rob someone,” Merritt told detectives
Wagner had been arrested in late April for an apparent assault and robbery, but prosecutors dropped charges the following month and put the case on the “inactive docket.” The victim said Wagner had first asked him if he was a member of the Black Guerilla Family or a Jamaa, a Swahili word used by BGF gang members.
Baltimore murders usually occur on the city’s east side, but Pitcairn’s murder was in a neighborhood generally regarded as safe. However, the Charles Village Benefits District has already had six murders this year, including the shooting of an apparent gang member.
For more on the Pitcairn murder, see Hopkins researcher’s promising life cut short in robbery by Justin Fenton, Peter Hermann, and Brent Jones.