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Crofton man found guilty in drug-related murder of Frederick man

HomicideJustice SystemCourts and the Judiciary

A Crofton resident was convicted Wednesday of killing a man whose body was found in the trunk of a car in 2012. Prosecutors said they will seek a life sentence without parole when Michael Stahlnecker, 51, is sentenced in May.

Stahlnecker was convicted by an Anne Arundel Circuit Court jury of first-degree murder and use of a handgun during a felony in connection with the November 2012 death of John Patrick Ryan of Frederick.

According to prosecutors, Frederick County police began investigating Ryan in 2012 after receiving a tip he was involved in growing marijuana in Maryland and California. Stahlnecker was identified as one of his associates, and investigators documented the two of them checking into a California hotel and spending time at a warehouse Stahlnecker owned in Laurel.

Ryan's wife reported him missing Nov. 29. Three days later, police searched Stahlnecker's warehouse and found a shell casing and Ryan's blood, prosecutors said. The next day, Ryan's body was found in the trunk of a car in Montgomery County. Ryan had two gunshots to his head and there was a pound of marijuana and $1,000 in cash next to his body, prosecutors said.

Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Anne Colt Leitess, who prosecuted the case, said the murder was senseless.

"It was for greed – over a petty disagreement," Leitess said in a statement. "His murder has devastated so many families, and left behind a 30-year-old wife and two young children."

pwood@baltsun.com

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