A Baltimore County jury convicted Roger Stump of second-degree murder yesterday in the killing of 10-year-old Adam Faulkner, a biracial boy who was strangled and submerged in Middle River 16 years ago in what police said was a racially motivated slaying.
Adam's mother, Chessa LeAnne Barnett, sat weeping and shaking in the courtroom, her 21-year-old daughter holding her tight, as the verdict was read after seven hours of deliberation in the courtroom of Circuit Judge Thomas J. Bollinger Sr.
Stump, a white Middle River resident who was 17 at the time of the murder, showed no reaction to the verdict, which carries a maximum 30-year sentence. No sentencing date has been set.
"I wish in my heart it was first-degree murder, but at least they found him guilty. He'll never hurt anybody else," said Barnett.
Assistant State's Attorney Jason League, who prosecuted the case with Dean Stocksdale, said the verdict from the jury of 10 whites and two blacks was "a long time coming."
Stump's relatives, who sat stoically behind him during the sentencing, declined to comment.
His lawyer, Harold I. Glaser, said it was a difficult case to defend. The killing took place so long ago that "it made it very difficult to get alibis" because people could not recall where they were 16 years ago, he said.
"Then there was the racial issue, the media issue, and we had a little boy die," he said.
Stump's younger brother, John Stump, was convicted in July as an accessory after the fact of murder for helping submerge the body.
Although there was no physical evidence, such as fingerprints, prosecution witnesses testified that Stump had admitted committing the murder and that it was motivated by racial prejudice.
The night before Adam Faulkner died, he had run away from home with his fishing pole, bicycle and a comforter from his bed after arguing with his stepfather.
According to one prosecution witness, he met Roger Stump and two friends while going to the river to fish in the early morning of June 29, 1982.
Another witness, Tracey Leturno, a former girlfriend of Roger Stump, testified that he told her of the murder in 1992 as they smoked PCP on a beach in Hawthorne, not far from where Adam died.
"They went down by the water. He said to the little boy, 'You just made the biggest mistake of your life.' When Adam asked why, he said, 'Because you're a nigger,' " she testified.
Another prosecution witness, Jeffrey Magee, said that while he was in a cell in the county Detention Center with Roger Stump last year, he heard Stump admit committing the killing.
John Stump, 32, was another key witness, testifying that Roger Stump woke him the morning of the murder and told him he had accidentally killed the boy while they were "horsing around."
John Stump gave his testimony in exchange for a promise from prosecutors that they would recommend a suspended sentence and probation, rather than a five-year prison term, for his part in the murder.
In his defense, Roger Stump's lawyer asked the jury, "Where's the evidence?" and said there was nothing to link him to the murder.
He argued that the prosecution witnesses were not to be believed.
In his closing argument, League asked jurors to find Roger Stump guilty of first-degree, premeditated murder because the boy was strangled. Second-degree murder does not include premeditation.
League said Roger Stump "revealed himself" by admitting to others that he committed the murder.
Adding that the case remained unsolved until the Stump brothers were arrested a year ago, he said, "It's a perfect murder except for one thing: Justice is patient."
Pub Date: 10/03/98