ST. LOUIS – A jury has convicted Stephan Cannon in the death of retired St. Louis police captain David Dorn in June 2020.
Cannon was found guilty Wednesday on charges of first-degree murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, and three counts of armed criminal action. He is scheduled to be sentenced in the case on the morning of September 13.
Defense attorney Brian Horneyer said he will file an appeal on behalf of his client. If that is denied at the time of sentencing, he plans to seek a retrial.
After the judge read the first “guilty” verdict, a person sitting on the defendant’s side of the courtroom ran out of the room and could be heard wailing in the hallway. Members of Dorn’s entourage began weeping in relief as the verdicts were revealed.
As the jury began to leave the courtroom at the conclusion of the trial, another one of Cannon’s supporters stood up, used an expletive to describe people in court, and stormed out. Lead prosecutor Marvin Teer Jr. said to reporters after trial that this was sad all the way around and there were no winners; a good man lost his life and another man will likely spend many years in prison because of it. However, Teer expressed gratitude that the Dorn family would get some closure in their lives. Teer had been called out of retirement by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Garder. He was living in San Diego at the time. The former judge and prosecutor said he hadn’t tried a case in 22 years.
Outside the courthouse, Ann Dorn said she stayed in court all three days to see justice served for her late husband. She said Teer did an excellent job and the family could not have had a better prosecutor on the case.
David died on June 2, 2020, while responding to a burglar alarm at a friend’s business, Lee’s Pawn and Jewelry. Looters broke into the store around 2 a.m. and David was fatally wounded when he confronted them. He was 77.
Cannon, a Glasgow Village resident, was arrested just days later and charged with Dorn’s murder. A second man, Mark Jackson, was charged with second-degree murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, stealing $750 or more, and three counts of armed criminal action. At least four other people have been charged in connection with looting the business.
A jury of nine women and three men began deliberations shortly after 12:35 p.m. Both the defense and prosecution agreed to pull one of the male jurors in favor of a female alternate for unspecified concerns.
A charge of stealing $750 or more was dropped against Cannon during a recess earlier in the morning, and jurors were notified of the change when they received instructions from the judge.
The jury returned its verdict just before 3:45 p.m.
After calling just three witnesses Wednesday morning, the defense rested its case.
In closing remarks, prosecutors attempted to shore up their case while the defense questioned the integrity of the prosecution’s star witness and pointed to inconsistencies in the narrative.
Teer reiterated the case against Cannon, stressing that the defendant’s claim of lack of physical evidence is spurious. Teer claimed Cannon did not leave any DNA or fingerprint evidence behind at the pawn shop because he likely did not come into contact with surfaces long enough to leave anything behind. Teer said rainfall could wash away fingerprints on the outside of the getaway car, and that Cannon could have used soap and water to wipe the interior down as well.
In addition, the defense’s assertion that a man with a long gun or rifle shot and killed David doesn’t hold up because there were no high-velocity shell casings found along the street corner where the fatal shots were fired, Teer said. David’s autopsy revealed no signs of injury or damage consistent with high-velocity rounds on the slain police captain’s body.
Horneyer said no one disputed that David was a good man and fine public servant, or that his family and loved ones don’t deserve justice. He said the lack of evidence and inconsistencies in the prosecution’s story demonstrated it would be wrong to convict Cannon.
Horneyer said the prosecution played the video of David’s final moments in court not for an evidentiary purpose, but to instead rile up the emotions of jurors. To make them angry enough to see past the flaws in the prosecution and convict an innocent man. He said police got tunnel vision and keyed in on his client from early on, ignoring the lack of evidence.
In addressing the jury, Horneyer said the police description of the shooter was similar not only to Cannon but to hundreds, if not thousands, of other men in the St. Louis area.
The prosecution’s star witness, Mark Jackson, lied several times during his initial interrogation with police, and, once on the stand, his story was not consistent with the story prosecutors were presenting.
Jackson had previously testified that he dropped Cannon off at his mother’s house. However, another witness, Elicia Beaver, testified Cannon was dropped off at her apartment between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m.
According to Jackson’s testimony, Cannon crawled into the store and handled several pieces of merchandise but police found no prints, no blood, and no DNA linking Cannon to the scene, Horneyer said.
There is no surveillance video or photos, nor are there DNA or fingerprint evidence showing Cannon or Jackson looting other businesses prior to going to Lee’s Pawn and Jewelry. Horneyer said there isn’t any because it never happened.
Surveillance video from outside the pawn shop shows the shooter in a white hat and black Adidas tracksuit get out of the front seat of Jackson’s Pontiac G6. The same individual got into the front seat when they all left the scene. Horneyer said he pointed out that Jackson testified in court that Cannon was in the backseat on the way to and from the pawn shop.
The defense said police never produced a murder weapon, nor did they find the clothes the shooter wore that night in Cannon’s possession.
Horneyer said he recalled Jackson’s many false stories during interrogation, in which the latter told detectives, “You tell me what to say and I’ll say it.”
Horneyer said police and prosecutors realized they didn’t have a good case, so they went to Jackson, “who lies as easily as he breathes,” to testify against Cannon.
When presenting his defense earlier that day, Horneyer called on two evidence technicians and a DNA analyst with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Crime Lab.