Marquita Sutton suspected her husband was having an affair.
The Laurel woman, now 32, used a cellphone application to track her husband's location, caught him lying about where he was and rented a car to try to find him, prosecutors said.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Johnnie Sutton III, 38, was seeing another woman, prosecutors said, and talked regularly about wanting a divorce.
On the morning of Dec. 13, 2013, police found Johnnie Sutton dead inside the Suttons' home on Frostwood Drive in Laurel. The program analyst stationed at Fort George G. Meade had been stabbed and cut 121 times with a single-edged knife. His body was wrapped in trash bags and covered in blankets.
Anne Arundel Circuit Court Judge Ronald A. Silkworth on Tuesday convicted Marquita Sutton of second-degree murder for her husband's death. She entered an Alford plea to the charge, which allows her to maintain her innocence but carries the same consequence as a guilty plea.
Sutton told police her husband tried to sexually assault her the night she stabbed him to death. Her attorneys have claimed the killing was in self-defense.
The state will seek a 30-year sentence, the maximum for second-degree murder, said Assistant State's Attorney Sandra Howell. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 6-8.
While Tuesday's hearing provided lengthy details about the events leading up to the killing, defense attorney Elizabeth Drennan said a "different version" will be presented at sentencing.
The weekend of Dec. 6-8, 2013, Johnnie Sutton told his wife he was going to New Jersey to take a photography class, said Assistant State's Attorney Carolynn Grammas. He sent his wife an email about the event, but didn't provide information about where he was staying.
While Johnnie was gone, Marquita used an application to track his cellphone to Ocean City, Grammas said. He was staying at the Fenwick Inn with another woman.
Detectives learned Marquita rented a car during the late night hours of Dec. 6 and drove to New Jersey, not returning to Maryland until the early morning hours of Dec. 7. EZ Pass and cellphone records recorded her travel.
Later that weekend, records showed Marquita traveled across the Bay Bridge as she attempted to track down her husband, Grammas said.
On Dec. 11, Marquita told a counselor that her husband had gone away the previous weekend and she believed he was having an affair. She also told the counselor her husband kept mentioning divorce.
That evening, Johnnie and his mistress sat in his car after work and talked about the future, Grammas said. He said he couldn't wait to introduce the woman to his friends, Grammas said.
That same evening, Marquita purchased 55-gallon black garbage bags from a Laurel Walmart, Grammas said. The bags were later found at the crime scene.
On Dec. 12, Johnnie didn't show up for work. His supervisors received a text message from his phone, believed to have been sent by Marquita, that said he was calling out sick because he had to take his son to the hospital.
Army protocols required direct verbal contact, Grammas said, but further text messages from Johnnie's phone said he wasn't available to talk. Supervisors continued trying to reach Johnnie and Marquita, but weren't able to speak with them, Grammas said.
The same day, Marquita is believed to have sent a text message to the woman her husband had been seeing, saying his son had picked up the same illness he had contracted earlier in the week.
But the woman knew Johnnie's earlier illness was due to a food allergy, Grammas said, and grew suspicious that the message wasn't coming from Johnnie.
After work, supervisors went to the Suttons' home, but found the lights off, Johnnie's car missing and nobody answering the door. They waited outside for several hours and continued trying to call Johnnie and Marquita, but couldn't reach them, Grammas said.
Johnnie was already dead inside.
Meanwhile, Marquita went to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Bethesda to be treated for two lacerations to her hand and pain in her shoulder. Prosecutors believe the wounds occurred early that morning as she stabbed her husband to death.
On the morning of Dec. 13, 2013, Johnnie again failed to show up for work and supervisors returned to the home. Then they called police.
A property manager let police into the home and officers found what appeared to be a body covered by blankets in the master bedroom. Dried blood was visible on the walls and carpet, police said. Under the blankets, officers discovered a body wrapped in trash bags.
Homicide detectives arrived, slit open one of the trash bags and determined the body was that of Johnnie Sutton, Grammas said. Marquita and the couple's 21-month-old son were nowhere to be found and police made attempts to reach them. Missing persons reports were filed for both of them.
Police learned that day that Marquita and the couple's son were safe. Marquita agreed to come in the following day to talk to investigators.
On Dec. 14, Marquita told police her husband tried to sexually assault her during the early morning hours of Dec. 12. She said she deployed a stun gun against him, but he continued assaulting her.
Marquita said she retrieved a knife and began stabbing her husband. She said she then dumped evidence in a dumpster at Jerry's Subs and Pizza in Laurel and moved her husband's car away from the home because she knew the military would come looking for him when he didn't show up for work.
Detectives searched the dumpsters and found trash bags with numerous bloody items and paperwork from the Sutton household, Grammas said.
Johnnie's blood was found on several pieces of women's clothing in the bags. Among other items, a hand towel containing Marquita's blood also was found.
Police charged Marquita with her husband's murder.
An autopsy on Johnnie's body revealed 63 stab wounds and 58 cutting wounds spread over his entire body, Grammas said. One of the wounds chipped Johnnie's skull and another, to his face, cut a tooth in half, Grammas said.
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Marquita said little during sentencing, except to tell the judge she understood what was happening. Prosecutors and defense attorneys said a number of people will speak at the sentencing hearing.