An Anne Arundel County judge on Thursday sentenced the man who murdered 33-year-old Steven Bernard Wilson in a Hanover model home to life in prison.
Circuit Court Judge Michael Wachs also handed down 20 years to 19-year-old Dillon Augustyniak for his use of a firearm in a crime of violence. That sentence will run concurrently to his life sentence.
Wilson’s family packed the courtroom. His widow, Jessica Wilson, and mother, Lisa Wilson, gave emotional impact statements describing the pain of their insurmountable loss. They said he had a smile that could brighten any room, that his blue eyes twinkled. Jessica said he was a sharp dresser who could’ve passed for a J-Crew Model.
“And he gave the best hugs," Lisa Wilson said. “Gosh... he gave the best hugs.”
One of Augustyniak’s attorneys, Assistant Public Defender Michele Vignola, said her client is a man with a child’s brain because of his lengthy record of mental health conditions. She asked Wachs to show some mercy.
Wachs heeded her request to refer Augustyniak to the Patuxent Youth Offenders program but stopped short of suspending any years from the life sentence. It’s unclear when Augustyniak will be eligible for release from prison.
Augustyniak dressed in full camouflage and carried a green .22 caliber rifle when he crept up to the Ryan Homes model house that Wilson had shown to his last customers on Dec. 5, 2018. When Augustyniak found one door locked, he calmly looked for and found another. Then, he entered the house and blasted the rifle at Wilson. Paramedics pronounced Wilson dead at the scene and a medical examiner later ruled he died by way of homicide caused by a “relatively close-range gunshot.”
Wilson managed to call 911, but couldn’t articulate words — only grunts. As he bled out, Augustyniak demanded money. Then, he snatched the cell phone from the dying man’s clutches, along with his laptop, and fled into a nearby wooded area he was known to frequent. He logged onto social media on Wilson’s phone and searched for a video of a rap song titled “Murder On My Mind,” before selling the phone to a neighbor.
Wachs cited a pre-sentence investigation and said the report “describes a callous, cold-blooded killing by a person who lacks remorse.”
Augustyniak’s family did not address the court and declined to comment after.
Assistant State’s Attorney Jason Steinhardt yielded much of his time for victim impact statements.
Jessica Wilson spoke after her mother-in-law. She provided a haunting context for her husband’s killing and the moments leading up to her becoming a widow at 29. Likely while Augustyniak was creeping up on the model home, she said she was singing Christmas songs with their two daughters and wondering how the young couple would handle a third.
She said she took a pregnancy test the night before he was gunned down which confirmed she was four weeks pregnant — he’d always dreamed of having four kids, she added.
Before Wilson left for work for the last time, she said she remembered him telling her “I love you, Jess. You’re a mom of three now.” But because of Augustyniak’s callousness, she said, Steven B. Wilson Jr. was born without his father and will only get to know him through the eyes and memory of his mother.
Jessica Wilson said she couldn’t make sense of why Augustyniak didn’t ask before he pulled the trigger. “If Dillon would have asked,” she said, “Steven would’ve driven him to the bank and drained our bank account.”
Instead, she said, she’s forced to answer the questions of her young daughters: “Why did daddy leave us?” and “Can we call him?"
All for a computer and a cell phone, Lisa Wilson added. “This awful act shows that there is true evil in the world."
Vignola explained her client’s life before the murder. She said his father, who died when Augustyniak was young, beat his mother, who was present in the courtroom Thursday, so badly that she gave birth to him when she was eight months pregnant.
And Vignola went over the long list of Augustyniak’s diagnoses dating from his 5th birthday to his 18th: ADHD, depression, mood disorder, Asperger’s, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anti-social disorder, learning disorder and schizophrenia, among others.
“He’d been diagnosed with almost everything you can be diagnosed with under the sun,” she said.
And Vignola told Wachs how many times he’d been committed to psychiatric facilities and the growing number and potency of drugs doctors were using — “he was the guinea pig for many heavy-duty medications,” she maintains — to treat those conditions. That continued until late November 2018, she said, when he was sent to a behavioral health facility in Montgomery County for a trial treatment for bipolar disorder. Vignola said they cut him off from the other drugs cold turkey; no tapering.
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He left the program Nov. 28, 2018 and was living in a vacant trailer in his neighborhood in Jessup, where he wasn’t taking his medicines and was abusing drugs. Seven days later he committed murder.
“He very immature," Vignola said. "He does not appreciate the gravity of what he’s done.”
Then Augustyniak, who sat silently in a gray suit between his attorneys all afternoon, was allowed to address Wachs. He instead apologized to the Wilsons.
“I’m truly sorry,” he said. “And at the time, I didn’t know what I was doing... I’m truly sorry.”
Wachs said he evaluated everything. He said that nothing he said or did could console the grieving family and that he wouldn’t forget the tragic facts and circumstances of the case “all the way around.” There is little doubt, Wachs added, that Augustyniak’s mental health contributed to his actions.