Stephen Pitcairn's aunt thanks the citizens and officials of Baltimore

As a member of Stephen Pitcairn's family I would like to publicly offer my gratitude to the citizens and officials of Baltimore.

Over the course of the trial of John Wagner, the man found guilty of my nephew's robbery and murder, I was impressed with the professionalism demonstrated by all parties: from the judge to the attorneys, the clerks, the bailiff, the sheriffs, the press, and others.

Judge Charles J. Peters acted with thoughtful consideration and made decisions with fairness. His reasoned stewardship of the law gave us confidence that the proceedings were conducted in a way that showed respect for the rights of everyone involved. We thank him for that.

The prosecutor and detectives guided our family through the foreign world of criminal court proceedings with its unfamiliar language and procedures. They kept us informed each day and responded to our myriad questions and concerns with patience and compassion. They have touched our hearts.

The jury listened attentively through hours of testimony that ranged from gut wrenching to tedious. We placed our trust in them to have clarity at a time when our pain blinded us to details that might have suggested Mr. Wagner's innocence. They gave us the gift of coming to court with open minds and a commitment to objectively consider all the evidence presented to them. We could see your struggle and we thank you for giving up your personal lives for those eight long days.

The defense attorneys were exceptional in their presentation of alternate possibilities to explain the testimony and evidence related to the night of Stephen's murder. Without their passionate commitment to Mr. Wagner's defense, the resulting verdict would have been hollow and meaningless. We thank them for their service to your community.

For whatever reason, Stephen's death struck a chord in the hearts of Baltimore's citizens. You have expressed sadness and outrage; and you have told us that the criminal acts of Mr. Wagner do not represent you as citizens of Baltimore. We know that the good heart of Baltimore was present on the night that Stephen was attacked. He was not left to die alone; one of you ran to him and comforted Stephen during his final moments. Similarly, many of you have reached out and comforted us over the course of this trial, and I am moved and deeply grateful for your kindness and compassion.

Marty Pitcairn, North Carolina

The writer is the aunt of Stephen Pitcairn.

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