ROCKVILLE, Md. - A 33-year-old Prince George's County father of three convicted Monday of killing a kidney transplant recipient during a home invasion robbery 15 months ago is facing life in prison for the crime.
But the defendant tried to convince a jury that it was the victim's dead ex-girlfriend who did it.
The crime happened at a house on Eagle Rock Place in Silver Spring in December 2014. Inside a basement apartment at his mother's home, 26-year-old aspiring musician Jonathan Harris was strangled and beaten in a bloody attack.
Dion Sobotker, the prime suspect, was convicted of first-degree murder on Monday after jurors saw a video of him using the victim's credit cards within hours of the killing.
Police later found bloody shoes and the Harris’ Playstation video game console in Sobotker’s home in Temple Hills.
"He was my soul, he was my heart,” said Lloyd Harris.
He had a special bond with his younger brother. When Jonathan was 12 years old and in kidney failure, Lloyd gave him one of his own kidneys.
"They took the person I love the most in this entire world,” said the victim's brother. “The person who inspires me to live every day like it's my last because that's how he lived his life."
Prosecutors said Harris was murdered as payback from a jilted girlfriend.
"Under the guise of going over to the apartment to pick up her effects, she went over there with some other individuals and during the course of retrieving her own property, the victim in this case was beaten to death by Dion Sobotker,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy. “He was strangled. He was suffocated. And in addition to taking her stuff, they took a number of items that belonged to Mr. Harris."
Harris' ex-girlfriend, Samantha Parker, was also charged with first-degree murder. But she developed brain cancer and died in jail before she could be put on trial. A third suspect, Latoya Morgan, pleaded guilty to driving the getaway car.
This case made headlines last year when a judge allowed Sobotker to post bond while awaiting trial.
Harris' mother, Patricia, is a retired Montgomery County school teacher.
"This has been a very hard, long journey,” she said. “But thanks to yesterday's verdict, I have an opportunity now to find new normal."
Sobotker faces the possibility of life in prison when he is sentenced in May.
Morgan is facing up to five years in prison when she is sentenced on Friday.