Headlines – Jury finds leader of white supremacy gang guilty of orchestrating death of another prisoner
Annapolis, Maryland – Anne Arundel County State Attorney Anne Colt Leitess today announced that a jury has found Joseph Leissler, 52, guilty on all counts in the murder of John O ‘ Sullivan, 43, another prisoner at the Maryland Correctional Institute in Jessup, Maryland. Leissler was convicted of first degree murder, criminal gang supervision, involvement in a criminal gang resulting in death, involvement in a criminal gang and conspiracy to commit first degree murder.
Leissler, one of the leaders of the Aryan Brotherhood, led underlings Vincent Bunner, Calvin Lockner and Brian Hare to viciously attack O’Sullivan with homemade prison knives. O’Sullivan was a prominent member of a rival gang, Dead Man Incorporated (DMI). The murder was apparently in retaliation for a gang-related assault, not involving either party, at another prison.
“This guilty verdict is the last of three trials involving the co-accused and I am pleased that Mr. Leissler is held accountable for his role in the order for the murder of John O’Sullivan. Although the accused did not wield a knife to kill the victim, he used his authority over his colleagues to carry out this attack. The state will seek the maximum sentence for this crime, which is life without parole, ”said State Attorney Anne Colt Leitess. “I continue to extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of John O’Sullivan for their loss.”
State Attorney Anne Colt Leitess continued the case on behalf of the citizens of Anne Arundel County.
On August 14, 2016, at the Jessup Correctional Institute, inmates in the F building returned to their cells after their recreational break. Shortly after, an inmate, identified as John O’Sullivan, entered his cell to collect his things for a shower when he was attacked by three inmates, identified as Vincent Bunner, Calvin Lockner and Brian Hare. The trio stabbed O’Sullivan with homemade metal knives. CCTV captured the three defendants attacking O’Sullivan as he attempted to escape his cell and run for help towards the level control booth area. Correctional officers entered the level in response and, using pepper spray, disarmed the suspects and ordered them to get to the ground. O’Sullivan succumbed to his injuries and died at the scene. The chief medical examiner’s office has ruled that O’Sullivan died of blood loss from 54 stab wounds and cuts.
During the week-long trial, former members of the Aryan Brotherhood said Leissler led attacks on at least six other people on behalf of the gang. Their testimony included the rule that only a high-ranking member of a gang could order an attack on O’Sullivan because of his status in a rival gang. In O’Sullivan’s attack, there were accounts that Leissler ordered the coup in direct retaliation and could do so as the leader of the gang.
In 2020, two of the accomplices, Bunner and Lockner, were tried and convicted of second degree murder and each received up to 30 years consecutive sentences they were already serving. Bunner is currently serving a life sentence and Lockner is serving a 30-year sentence. Brian Hare pleaded guilty to first degree murder in the attack and testified against his co-defendants at trial. He is waiting to be condemned.
Mr. Leissler will be sentenced on November 2, 2021. He faces two possible life sentences, including up to a life sentence without parole.
The Honorable Stacy W. McCormack presided over the case.