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Jury still out in House of Correction death penalty case (access required)

After four full days of deliberation, the jury in the death penalty case against Lee E. Stephens remains undecided about whether he and another man killed a corrections officer in the former Maryland House of Correction. Cpl. David McGuinn was stabbed to death while on duty during an ambush style attack from behind as he was taking the final lockup count for the night at 10 p.m. on July 25, 2006. Stephens was charged with first-degree murder in McGuinn’s death. The case went to the jury last Wednesday. While court was not in session Friday, the jurors in the case have been deliberating since. On Tuesday, jurors again did not deliver a verdict and were sent home about 4 p.m. The case against Stephens is based on eyewitness testimony from former inmates on the cell block where the attack occurred and DNA testing of blood recovered from Stephens’ personal effects. The jury has the option to find Stephens guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Paul A. Hackner told the jury when they were given the case that the verdict form also included an option to find Stephens guilty of second-degree murder. A first-degree conviction would open the door to further hearings about whether to impose capital punishment. The jury has had a tough job put in front of them. There are reasonable issues raised on both sides and, with no video footage, a lot of the state’s case came down to a prisoner who said he saw everything through a mirror he held out of his cell door.