Jury Finds Pasadena Man Criminally Responsible for Stabbing His 5-Year Old Sister to Death

Following a five-day trial, an Anne Arundel County jury on Friday found 20-year-old Stephen Jarrod Davis II (left photo), of Pasadena, criminally responsible for the 2020 First-Degree Murder of his 5-year-old sister, Anaya Jannah Abdul (right photo), State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess announced. 

He faces a Life sentence for his crimes, which he committed when he was 17 years old.

“The defendant was angry at his family and he took it out on the youngest and most vulnerable member by stabbing his little sister to death,” Leitess said. “He wrote a note to his mother and siblings stating that he hated and wanted to kill them all, but decided that one was enough to cause damage.

"I am grateful that the jury rejected his attempt to avoid responsibility for this unthinkable crime by claiming that he heard a 'noise' and was compelled to kill his sister. It is a terrible thing to have to prosecute a young person for such a horrific crime, but he had to be held accountable for it.

“This verdict is the truth of what happened to the victim and, in some small measure, justice for Anaya and closure for her family and loved ones.” 

On the morning of October 3, 2020, Davis’ family noticed the defendant, who was 17 years old and a senior in high school at the time, was missing from their home. Family members called police after noticing a vehicle was also gone. Later, the note written by Davis was found.

Shortly after reading the note, and while police were on scene, a sibling found Anaya in her bed suffering from stab wounds to her neck. She was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Police traced Davis’ cellphone to Ohio, where state troopers spotted him and attempted to pull him over.  Davis attempted to elude police, taking them on a high speed chase for more than five miles with Davis driving over 130 mph. Ultimately, Davis pulled over and was taken into custody. Witnesses testified at trial that he acted normally and followed all instructions.

In October 2022, Davis entered a guilty plea to First-Degree Murder and opted for a bi-furcated trial on the issue of criminal responsibility, where he had the burden of proof to persuade a jury by a preponderance of the evidence that at the time of the act, and because of a mental disorder, he either couldn’t conform his behavior to the law or couldn’t appreciate the criminality of his actions. 

Expert witnesses called by the State and Defense agreed that Davis suffered from some mental health disorders, but disagreed whether they were sufficient to render him Not Criminally Responsible.

In a heartfelt letter shortly after Anaya's death, Fort Smallwood Elementary School Principal Bobbie Kesecker reflected on the loss of the young child. "Anaya, a kindergarten student at our school, was very sweet," Principal Kesecker wrote in the letter.  "She was quite animated when called upon, and always had something to say in the classroom."

Anaya was laid to rest following a service in Prince George County on October 19, 2020, according to an online obituary.  "Naya Pop, you will truly be missed," a family member wrote inside the obituary.  "You were a burst of sunshine, always so animated and excited about life."