Merritt occasionally goes by the last name Wagner, though it's unclear whether the couple is legally married. There is no marriage license on file in Baltimore City.
Merritt said Wagner approached her on the night of July 25th, and "asked me did I want to go get some money," which she understood to mean commit robbery.
She agreed, and the couple left their apartment, ending up a few hours later on St. Paul Street "looking for a possible robbery [target]," Felsen said.
Pitcairn walked past them, on his way home from Penn Station, having just returned from visiting with his sisters in New York.
The Florida native had moved to Baltimore in June to work as a technician in a cellular research lab at the Johns Hopkins University, quickly making friends with his colleagues. He planned to attend medical school, they said, to help those less fortunate than he.
That night, he was talking on his cellphone to his mother as he walked. Wagner came up behind him, Felsen said, and asked him to hand over his money.
"There was a struggle, and during the struggle, the defendant John Wagner stabbed the victim Stephen Pitcairn in the chest with the knife that he had on him. The victim fell to the ground," Felsen said. "At some point, while falling to the ground or hitting the ground, the defendant in this matter, Lavelva Merritt punched the victim, Mr. Pitcairn, in the face."
Merritt added herself that "John grabbed the wallet" and she "took the cellphone." Then they ran from the scene, sprinting past a storage facility surveillance camera, which caught them on video.
An autopsy, contained in a court file, said Pitcairn died from a "stab wound to the chest" that injured his heart and caused internal bleeding. His life slipped away on the street while a neighbor cradled him.
Back home, Wagner stripped out of his jersey and shorts, trying in vain to scrub the blood out of them, Felsen said. Soon their roommates came in, and Wagner allegedly admitted to robbing a "white guy" and hurting him "real bad."
One of the roommates would later take Pitcairn's credit card and attempt to pay for people's gas with it in exchange for cash, according to Felsen.
The knife that stabbed Pitcairn was hidden in the left shoe of a pair of Nikes, while Pitcairn's cellphone was in the right one, the prosecutor said. Police recovered both after searching the defendants' apartment July 26.
Merritt gave a statement that same day, denying any involvement. But by September, she admitted her role.
Her sentencing has not yet been set. The judge is delaying it until Wagner's case is settled and Rasin can see whether Merritt kept her word.
"If you honor your plea agreement, the state will enter a nolle prosse — that is dismiss the charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder," Rasin told Merritt, adding that failure to honor the agreement would nullify the deal.
Merritt said she understood.