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Man sentenced to life in prison in death of David Dorn

A jury found Stephan Cannon, 26, guilty of first-degree murder in July.

ST. LOUIS — The man who shot and killed a retired police captain who was trying to protect a pawn shop from looters will spend the rest of his life in prison.

A jury found Stephan Cannon, 26, guilty of first-degree murder in July. Judge Theresa Counts Burke sentenced him Wednesday to life in prison without parole. She also gave Cannon the maximum sentence on each of five additional charges he had, for a total of 30 years to be served consecutively with his life sentence.

"This is the maximum sentence the law allows," Counts Burke told Cannon. 

She also urged Cannon to listen to the words Dorn's family members spoke about how he still has a life to live and turn around. 

"Your life does continue on and this is a choice you have to make, how do you continue on?" she said. 

5 On Your Side's Christine Byers was in the courtroom during the sentencing and shared details on Twitter. Dorn's daughter, Lisa Dorn, said he was "murdered by the type of young man my father tried to save." 

She also said she and her sister Debra Dorn have been fighting to preserve their father's legacy, which has been "used as a political pawn to support causes and people my father would never have supported."

"He would not approve of any of it," she said.

Their father's widow, Ann Wood-Dorn, has appeared on Fox News and other conservative shows and supported former President Donald Trump since Dorn's murder.  

Lisa Dorn went on to ask the judge to give Cannon life in prison as a birthday present for her father. His birthday is Oct. 29.

Dorn's son, Brian Powell, also spoke to Cannon during the sentencing. 

"I hope your eyes are woke. You still have time to get everything together and make amends with your maker," he said.

After the hearing, Powell said he hoped Cannon would do what he could to turn around the lives of other young men while in prison. He said his father inspired him and his brother to volunteer to coach and mentor others.

"We saw kids just like Stephan Cannon, and we tried our best to help as many kids as we can," he said. "We used to beat ourselves up and my mom, she said, 'You can't save everyone.' 

"And this is one of the young men that fell through the cracks. But he has time to try to get his life back on track. He may not never see the light of day, but if he's inside, he can definitely share with the other young men that may go to prison. Just share something that can turn them on the straight and narrow. So I'm glad justice was served today. It's just sad. No one wins in this situation. Everybody is hurt. We're hurt. His family's hurt. No one wins. But we are just glad that justice prevailed today."

Credit: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Ann Dorn, second from right, and others await the sentencing of Stephan Cannon on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, in St. Louis circuit court, after previously being found guilty of first-degree murder in the 2020 killing of Ann Dorn's husband, retired St. Louis police Capt. David Dorn. Dorn, 77, was shot outside Lee’s Jewelry & Pawn shop at 4123 Martin Luther King Drive when he showed up to stop looters who had descended on the business during violence and destruction that followed protests over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd. Photo by David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

Dorn's widow said her husband's murder triggered PTSD in her and she had to retire from the police force after 28 years, unable to get her full pension.

“He became a victim of the very thing he fought against," she said.

She said she cannot forgive Cannon, only God can. 

"Today I chose to be a survivor," she said. "I cannot live my life as a victim."

She also addressed her husband's killer. 

"I'll never give you a second thought," she said. 

And she asked for the maximum sentence.

"He has no remorse, he doesn't fear jail," she told the judge. 

At the sentencing, Cannon apologized to the family but said he is not the person who killed Dorn.

"This ain't justice," he told the judge.

Cannon's attorney said he is not the cold killer the Dorn family described him to be and is not the person who shot Dorn. He said Cannon is a "loving father and a loving son."

Police didn’t have any forensic evidence connecting Cannon to the crime scene or getaway car, no murder weapon or any witnesses who said they saw Cannon fire the fatal shots that killed retired St. Louis Police Capt. David Dorn outside Lee’s Pawn Shop June 2, 2020.

Mark Jackson, who drove the getaway car, said Cannon was the man police identified as the shooter in surveillance images. A woman who lived with Cannon also identified Cannon from the surveillance images.

Cannon's mother, Sholonda Harris, was too ill to attend the hearing, but told 5 On Your Side by phone that her son is innocent and that Jackson is the killer. Jackson was given five years of probation on a second-degree murder charge for his role in Dorn's death.

"I’m ok with (the sentence) because I’m going to fight to make sure my son comes home because he did not shoot that captain," she said. "He wasn’t raised like that. He was raised in church all his life, he’s a man of God, he has a 1-year-old son."

She admitted her son was there during the looting, but said he did not take anything from the store.

"He was in the wrong place at the wrong time," she said. "I don’t understand why an innocent young man has to go to jail for a murder he did not commit. I want justice for my son, just as well as they want justice for Capt. Dorn. I’m sorry that happened to that Captain, but my son is innocent. He wouldn’t harm anybody."

RELATED: Everything you need to know about the murder of retired St. Louis police captain David Dorn

Credit: SLMPD
Retired SLMPD Captain David Dorn

The jury took three hours to find Cannon guilty of six counts following the 3-day trial. In addition to the murder charge, jurors found him guilty of five additional charges including armed criminal action, first-degree robbery, two counts of armed criminal action and first-degree burglary.

The first-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory life sentence.

Dorn was killed during a night of rioting that followed protests over the death of George Floyd. Four St. Louis police officers also were shot that night, but all survived their wounds.

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