For the past 10 months, Steven Wayne Pearson survived, his movements limited to squeezing a hand or blinking his eyes while bone-deep bedsores prompted his family to repeatedly move him from nursing home to hospital.
The suffering ended Friday when Pearson, 57, died of the injuries he had sustained in a robbery and beating last year that had left him mostly incapacitated and dependent on feeding tubes and life-support systems.
Baltimore police upgraded his unsolved case to a homicide and detectives have begun another round of interviews searching for whoever left Pearson, a building contractor, injured in a West Baltimore hallway.
"We're sad, we're angry and we're hurt," said Pearson's brother, Maurice Pearson. "We're sad because we lost Steve. We're angry because of what happened to him. And we're hurt because there ain't no closure for what happened to him."
On Dec. 20, Baltimore police found Steven Pearson lying in the hallway of a building in the 1600 block of McCulloh St., having been struck in the head, police spokeswoman Detective Angela Carter-Watson said. He was taken to a hospital where doctors diagnosed bleeding on his brain.
Pearson's wife had been the last to see him just before he left his Pikesville home for a building estimate in the midafternoon of Dec. 17, Maurice Pearson said.
When he failed to return that night, the family called police, who began a missing-person search. Police initially labeled him a "John Doe" when they found him in the Upton neighborhood. Detectives were later able to identify him.
Several tools had been stolen from Steven Pearson and his white truck, which remained locked and parked outside the building where he was discovered, Maurice Pearson said. They included Dewalt-brand drills, compressors, circular saws and other tools, all labeled with Steven Pearson's initials. He didn't indicate whom he was meeting before he left home.
"He was a caring person, someone you could depend on," Maurice Pearson said. "He was selfless. You call him up anytime of day or night, he would help you. He knew how to fix anything. As a family, we depended on him to do a lot of things."
He was the brother who showed up to help another sibling cut crown molding correctly. When Maurice Pearson complained that a light switch he had installed kept blowing out, Steven Pearson diagnosed the problem: Two wires were touching. Over the phone, he walked his brother through the solution.
Over the past several months, he was moved from nursing home to hospital with bedsores and pneumonia, all the while unable to communicate with his family.
"I think my brother died 10 months ago," said sister Julia Briggs. "He was just laying there. He couldn't move. … Ten months he suffered. He was in the hospital at least once every month. He's not suffering anymore."
Briggs said Pearson's generosity extended to strangers who were out of work, and he would often hire men he saw outside Home Depot or on the street for day labor. "Such an open-hearted man," she said. "He would help anyone."
Pearson was a former city firefighter and Marine, his family said.
"Stevie," as Julia Briggs called him, was the sixth of eight children born to Margaret Pearson — and the second to have been killed in Baltimore.
Sannie Pearson, who suffered from a condition that did not allow her to walk, was strangled in a nursing home during a rehabilitation stint several years ago, Briggs said.
The tragedies have taken a toll on Margaret Pearson, now 87, who often reflects silently while sitting on the porch or on walks with her children, Briggs said.
Steven Pearson is also survived by his wife, Edie. The family has scheduled a memorial service at 10 a.m. Friday at the Mount Moriah Baptist Church, 2201 Garrison Blvd. The service is open to the public.
On Monday, Baltimore police identified three city homicide victims killed over the weekend in separate incidents. No suspects have been identified in any of the cases.
Natafre Green, 30, of the 2800 block of Ridgewood Ave. was shot several times in a car police found in the 300 block of S. Franklintown Road on Saturday. Daryl Derell Fletcher, 27, of the 800 block of Monroe St. was shot Sunday afternoon in the 1800 block of W. Lafayette Ave. Latreshia Danyel Gowdy, 32, of the 1000 block of W. Mosher St. was stabbed to death Sunday evening in the 4400 block of Fairview Ave.