Man found guilty in murder of local kidney transplant survivor

Jonathan Harris was a two-time kidney transplant and open heart surgery survivor. "It's been the most painful that I have experienced in my entire life," his mother Patricia Harris says. "But I draw strength in knowing that my son would want me to persevere."  Photo courtesy of the Harris family. (Courtesy of the Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office)
Jonathan Harris was a two-time kidney transplant and open heart surgery survivor. “It’s been the most painful that I have experienced in my entire life,” his mother Patricia Harris says. “But I draw strength in knowing that my son would want me to persevere.” Photo courtesy of the Harris family. (Courtesy of the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office) (Courtesy of the Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office)
Police executed a search warrant on Sobotker’s home and found a PlayStation registered to Jonathan Harris. (Courtesy of the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office)
Police executed a search warrant on Sobotker’s home and found a PlayStation registered to Jonathan Harris. (Courtesy of the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office) (Courtesy of the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office)
Detectives found a bloody pair of shoes in Sobotker’s home. DNA tests later confirmed the blood was that of Jonathan Harris. (Photo courtesy of the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office)
Detectives found a bloody pair of shoes in Sobotker’s home. DNA tests later confirmed the blood was that of Jonathan Harris. (Photo courtesy of the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office) (Courtesy of the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office)
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Jonathan Harris was a two-time kidney transplant and open heart surgery survivor. "It's been the most painful that I have experienced in my entire life," his mother Patricia Harris says. "But I draw strength in knowing that my son would want me to persevere."  Photo courtesy of the Harris family. (Courtesy of the Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office)
Police executed a search warrant on Sobotker’s home and found a PlayStation registered to Jonathan Harris. (Courtesy of the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office)
Detectives found a bloody pair of shoes in Sobotker’s home. DNA tests later confirmed the blood was that of Jonathan Harris. (Photo courtesy of the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office)

ROCKVILLE, Md — On Monday night, a jury found a man guilty of murder and robbery charges in connection with the 2014 murder of a two-time kidney transplant survivor.

Dion Sobotker, 33, faces life in prison.

On Dec. 6, 2014, Jonathan Harris, 26, was found strangled during a robbery in the Silver Spring home he shared with his mother.

“It’s been the most painful that I have experienced in my entire life,” said Patricia Harris, Jonathan’s mother. “But I draw strength in knowing that my son would want me to persevere.”

From the day he was born, Jonathan fought for his life to overcome serious health problems. When he lost kidney function at the age of 12, his older brother Lloyd donated one of his in 2002.

“I feel like it’s what I was supposed to do,” Lloyd Harris said. “That’s what we do. That’s just how we are. That’s how we are.”

Jonathan’s body rejected the kidney so he ended up on an organ exchange program that was featured on the “Today” show with more than two dozen patients.

In 2010, there was a match. He received another donated kidney and also survived open-heart surgery.

He had a new lease on life and a budding music career. “My son was a rapper. And a writer. And an artist. He was just gifted,” says Patricia.

Four years later, Jonathan was killed.

“He was my soul. He was my heart,” says Lloyd. “I miss him every day.”

An autopsy determined Harris was strangled and beaten.

Montgomery County Police identified three suspects: Dion Sobotker, Samantha Parker and Latoya Morgan.

Detectives say Parker was Harris’s ex-girlfriend and had threatened him in the past.

When police executed a search warrant on Sobotker’s home, they found a pair of shoes with blood on them, later confirmed to be that of Jonathan Harris.

Police also found a PlayStation registered to him. Additionally, surveillance footage shows the three suspects using Harris’s credit cards in multiple locations immediately after the murder.

“After Mr. Harris’s life was taken, many items of personal property including the PlayStation, a cell phone, several flat screen televisions, as well as credit cards, were taken from Mr. Harris,” says Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

The suspects were all initially arrested on murder and robbery charges but in exchange for dropping the most serious offenses, Morgan pleaded guilty to robbery after the fact and agreed to testify against Sobotker and Parker.

Parker later died of brain cancer.

Sobotker will be sentenced May 18, 2016.  He could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Morgan will be sentenced Friday and faces a maximum of five years in prison.

“They took the person that I loved the most in this entire world. The person that inspires me to live everyday like it’s my last because that’s how he lived his life,” says Lloyd Harris.

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