Trial for couple accused of killing Hopkins researcher postponed

The murder trial of Lavelva Merritt and John Wagner, the Baltimore couple accused of killing cancer researcher Stephen Pitcairn this summer as he walked home through Charles Village, has been postponed until April 26.

It was originally scheduled to begin next week, but was delayed because the state's DNA analysis is incomplete and one of the defense attorneys has another trial scheduled, according to court records filed Friday.

Charging documents claim Merritt, 24, and Wagner, 37, stabbed Pitcairn, who worked at Johns Hopkins University, and robbed him of his wallet and iPhone on July 25, then left him for dead on the sidewalk in the 2600 block of St. Paul St.

They allegedly bragged about the murder and may have tried to use Pitcairn's credit cards, according to court documents. Prosecutors have subpoenaed the victim's financial records from late July and said they will submit video surveillance from at least four businesses as evidence during the trial.

The murder became a focal point during the Baltimore state's attorney's race last year, and helped challenger Gregg Bernstein unseat longtime prosecutor Patricia C. Jessamy by claiming she was ineffective at prosecuting repeat, violent offenders. Wagner's criminal history shows he has many charges but few significant convictions.