Roger Stump, convicted in the racially motivated killing of 10-year-old Adam Faulkner in 1982, was sentenced yesterday to 30 years in prison by a Baltimore County Circuit judge, the maximum penalty for second-degree murder.
"There was absolutely no reason for this crime except for hatred," said Judge Thomas J. Bollinger Sr., who presided over the October jury trial in Faulkner's long-unsolved slaying.
Testimony at the trial showed Stump, now 34, strangled the boy along the banks of Middle River because the boy was biracial. Stump, who is white, maintained his innocence yesterday, saying, "I have done no such thing."
The case went unsolved for so long, say police and prosecutors, because witnesses who were reluctant to talk about the murder when they were teen-agers in the 1980s came forward years later.
Yesterday, the slain boy's mother, Chessa LeAnne Barnett, tearfully addressed the judge before sentencing, saying her oldest son's murder ended her marriage, forcing her to raise her other three children alone. "There is an empty hole in my heart that no amount of time will erase," she said, calling Adam "a naive, little boy."
"There is not a holiday that goes by that there isn't an empty chair at the table that could have been filled by a great man," she said of her son, who would have been 26 this year.
As she had throughout the trial, Barnett carried the pink-and-orange plaid shirt that was her son's favorite.
"He was a little boy who this shirt was too big for," she said, holding up the shirt for the judge to see.
"Adam was no match for a 17-year-old man," she added, referring to Stump.
Later, Barnett said she was pleased with the sentence. "Thirty years was the most we could do, and I'm grateful."
Roger Stump's lawyer, Harold I. Glaser, pleaded with the judge yesterday for leniency, saying that life in prison for Stump will be difficult because he was convicted of a "racial murder."
"Because of the ethnicity of the [prison] population, I feel he's going to be looking over his shoulder constantly," said Glaser.
Stump's family declined comment after the sentencing.
Also in the courtroom yesterday was one of the jurors in the case, Linda Soukup, who said that during their seven hours of deliberation, jurors were divided between first- and second-degree murder in finding Stump guilty. First-degree murder involves premeditation; second-degree murder does not.
Soukup said the racial motivation of the murder was not a factor in persuading the jury to convict Stump.
"A child had been killed," said Soukup, who has a 10-year-old son.
Today, Roger Stump's brother, John Stump, will be sentenced for his part in the killing. He was convicted in July as an accessory-after-the-fact of murder for helping to submerge Adam's body in Middle River after the killing.
After John Stump agreed to testify against his brother, &r prosecutors promised they would recommend a five-year suspended sentence and five years of probation.