Lawanda Sykes knew the criminal justice system would work as intended. Her family, she said, just needed to wait for the process to play out.

Following more than 13 hours of deliberations over three days, a jury delivered what she described as justice for her sister.

On Wednesday, Elliot Knox, 34, of Mount Holly, was found guilty in Baltimore Circuit Court of two counts of first-degree murder and related crimes in the fatal shootings of Sykes’ sister, Baltimore Police Officer Keona Holley, and another man, Justin Johnson, on Dec. 16, 2021.

Knox did not visibly react when the foreperson read the verdict. Circuit Judge Jennifer B. Schiffer thanked jurors for their service and then scheduled sentencing for June 4.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Speaking to reporters outside the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse, Sykes said her fight is not over and noted that a second man is awaiting trial. And she said she will not rest until she finds out the answer to the enduring question in the case: Why was her sister murdered?

“Someone sent them to do it. And I’m going to say right here and right now, I’m coming for you,” Sykes said. “We will find out who you are, and your day is coming.”

During the trial, Assistant State’s Attorney Kurt Bjorklund argued that Knox fatally shot Holley, a two-year veteran of the Baltimore Police Department, as she sat in her patrol car before 1:30 a.m. on Pennington Avenue near Hazel Street in Curtis Bay.

Holley, 39, a mother of four who joined the force to make a difference, died one week later at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Next, Knox and another man, Travon Shaw, prosecutors contended, shot and killed Johnson, whom family members described as a 37-year-old father of five, at about 3 a.m. while he sat in his 1997 Lincoln Town Car on Lucia Avenue near Airy Hill Avenue in Yale Heights.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Shaw, 34, of Catonsville, was found guilty in 2023 of first-degree murder and related crimes in Johnson’s killing. He’s set to appear back in court on March 28.

Bjorklund called more than a dozen witnesses and presented evidence including DNA, ballistics and cellphone location information.

At first, Knox told homicide detectives that he was not involved in the fatal shootings. He later admitted that he was present at both crime scenes but denied that he pulled the trigger.

He directed investigators to a home in Windsor Mill where he had stashed two guns: a Glock 22 and an Extar EXP-556. Knox also identified himself and Shaw in surveillance video.

Bjorklund contended the surveillance video proved that Knox was the one who fatally shot Holley.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Shaw kept watch on a hill. Meanwhile, Knox turned the corner and went out of camera view, Bjorklund said.

Under Maryland law, though, Bjorklund said that did not matter. Knox, he said, was equally liable if the jury believed that he only acted as an accomplice.

The jury convicted Knox on eight of nine counts. The exception was a charge of use of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence, which suggests that jurors could not find beyond a reasonable doubt that he pulled the trigger.

Justin Johnson was fatally shot while sitting in his 1997 Lincoln Town Car on Lucia Avenue near Airy Hill Avenue in Yale Heights on Dec. 16, 2021. (courtesy of WJZ) (courtesy of WJZ)

Knox’s attorney, Natalie Finegar, argued that her client admitted to what amounted to the crime of accessory after the fact to murder but was not culpable in the killings.

“He was not part of those murders,” Finegar said. “He did not aid and abet. He did not premediate. He did not conspire.”

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

In a statement, Baltimore State’s Attorney Ivan Bates said the “heartless murders” of Holley and Johnson “shook Baltimore to its core” and thanked the jury for its service.

“Today, justice was served,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Richard Worley said in a statement.

“He committed a senseless and heinous act against a Baltimore Police Department Officer and it is my hope that this verdict brings a sense of closure and peace to Officer Keona Holley’s family, friends, co-workers and loved ones.”

The president of the Baltimore City Lodge No. 3 Fraternal Order of Police, Sgt. Mike Mancuso, wrote in a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter: “This cowardly act against one of our own was chilling and we ask for nothing but the harshest sentence possible, which will still not be enough.”

Johnson’s father, Harold Johnson, and mother, Justina Lawrence, also spoke with reporters.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Lawrence said she’s thankful for the verdict but noted that it will not bring back her son. She said she does not dwell on the motive for his murder.

“I would like to know,” she said, “but, like I said, it’s not going to bring my son back.”

More From The Banner