Two men were acquitted of murder charges yesterday in the fatal stabbing of a University of Maryland student during an off-campus party last fall, but were convicted of lesser charges that will likely lead to prison sentences, prosecutors said.
A Prince George's County jury deliberated for about six hours over two days before acquitting John Ryan Schlamp, 24, of the Village of Long Reach in Columbia, and Quan Lewayne Davis, 23, of Hanover in Anne Arundel County, of first- and second-degree murder and first-degree assault.
They were charged in the fatal stabbing of sophomore Brandon J. Malstrom, 20, during a house party in November.
The jury returned guilty verdicts of riot against Schlamp and Davis. Schlamp was also convicted of second-degree assault. Davis was found guilty of carrying a deadly weapon with intent to injure.
Ramon V. Korionoff, a spokesman for the Prince George's state's attorney's office, said that despite the murder acquittals, prosecutors were pleased with the outcome.
Prosecutors had hoped to convict the two men on murder charges, but Korionoff said there was a "lack of direct witnesses" which made it difficult for the jury to "connect the dots."
A riot charge carries an unlimited maximum penalty and when "sentencing comes, [people] will know these are some serious charges," he said.
The assault charge carries a 10-year maximum penalty and a conviction for carrying a deadly weapon with intent to injure could lead to as many as three years in prison.
Attorneys for both Schlamp and Davis have maintained that although their clients were at the party, they were not involved in the stabbing.
"There's no evidence that my client killed the victim," said Henry L. McRobie, Schlamp's lawyer.
Schlamp's lawyer and father said that they were relieved by the decision. "Anytime you're facing first-degree murder and you come away from it innocent, you're happy," McRobie said.
"I'm happy," said John Randolph Schlamp, who has long maintained his son's innocence. "These two were just scapegoats."
Davis's attorney, Warren A. Brown, said the two men were "easy picks" for the state to go after because they were outsiders who did not attend the University of Maryland. "It's like just being close enough [to the crime] was sufficient for the state," Brown said. "The state could not and did not prove when it happened, where it happened and who did it."
Efforts to contact the Davis family were unsuccessful yesterday.
Schlamp and Davis, who were not students at the university, attended a party in the 7300 block of Dickinson Ave. in College Park on Nov. 10 to celebrate a Maryland football win. During the party, Schlamp thought that Malstrom stole his cell phone and confronted him. After the two scuffled, Schlamp shouted "I am going to kill you," according to court documents.
Police said that while a third person, Robert Allen Fournier, restrained Malstrom, Davis pulled an "unknown object from his waistband" and struck Malstrom in the chest.
Malstrom, a dean's list business student, suffered a stab wound to the chest and was pronounced dead several hours later at Prince George's Hospital Center.
Fournier, 22, of the 6600 block of Buttonhole Court in Columbia's Village of Hickory Ridge, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in January. He agreed to a plea bargain in exchange for testimony against Schlamp and Davis, but "he didn't help us or hurt us," McRobie said.
Davis and Schlamp were both involved in Howard County sports. Davis was a football running back and basketball point guard at Oakland Mills High School in the mid-1990s, and Schlamp played football for Howard High School at the same time.
Although the two were casual acquaintances, they were not close friends, according to Schlamp's family.
The Malstroms could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Sentencing for Schlamp and Davis is scheduled for July 25. Davis' attorney said he would seek to have the riot charge overturned at that time because the state did not show Davis attended the party with the intent of causing a public disturbance, as the charge requires.