Daughter Describes Father’s Death ‘Over a Piece of Paper’ During Defendant’s Sentencing

A convicted homicide defendant was sentenced to life plus 20 years with the first five years without parole on Nov. 14 before Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Dana Middleton

Jaqwaun Owens was sentenced to life for first-degree murder, a consecutive 20 years for the use of a firearm during a felony violent crime, and a concurrent five years without parole for possession of a firearm with a felony conviction. This was in connection to the murder of 40-year-old Justin Bucalo on the 5100 block of Queensberry Avenue on Feb. 18, 2021.

The prosecutor argued that Owens was a danger to society, stating that he has several convictions, including a robbery in 2019, a violation of probation in 2017, and a charge for distributing narcotics in 2015. 

The prosecutor initially recommended a sentence of life for first-degree murder, a consecutive 20 years for the use of a firearm during a felony violent crime, a concurrent 15 years with the first five years without parole for possession of a firearm with a felony conviction. 

“My twin brother was stolen from me,” said the victim’s sibling during his impact statement. He described how proud his brother was of him recently becoming an FBI agent. 

“The death of your child is the worst life can throw at you,” Bucalo’s father said through sobs during his statement to the court. “Justin’s pain is now my pain.”

During the hearing, the prosecutor described the altercation and alleged that it was over money. 

“Someone killed my father over a piece of paper,” said the victim’s daughter, her voice breaking as she fought back her emotions. She went on to describe how she had spent her 22nd birthday in a cemetery next to her father. 

Owens did not take responsibility for the murder during his sentencing. 

“I apologize for being found guilty,” said Owens as he tried to appeal to the judge, stating, “I have a family too.” 

Owens’ defense counsel Matthew Connell informed the court that his client’s mother has stage four cancer and was given six months to live. 

Judge Middleton noted how hard it is to listen to victim impact statements and proceed to sentence the defendant to life in prison.

While exiting the courtroom Owens yelled back, “I love you mom.”

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