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Old 02-11-2010, 01:37 AM
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Arrow Denita Smith was found dead 01/04/07


Denita Smith, 25, of Charlotte, was found dead Jan. 4, 2007, in an apartment complex near North Carolina Central University, where she was a graduate student.


Shannon Crawley appears in court May 9 to plead not guilty to charges that she shot and killed North Carolina Central University graduate student Denita Smith, 25.


Suspect in NCCU student's death blames fiance
Bond Set for Suspect in NCCU Student's Slaying

Posted: Feb. 10 1:46 p.m.
Updated: Feb. 10 6:41 p.m.

Durham, N.C. — A Greensboro police officer killed a North Carolina Central University graduate student more than three years ago, the attorney for the woman accused of the crime said Wednesday as her trial began.

Shannon Elizabeth Crawley, 28, of Greensboro, is charged with murder in the Jan. 4, 2007, shooting death of Denita Monique Smith.

Smith, 25, was shot in the head at Campus Crossing Apartments in Durham and fell down a stairwell to the sidewalk, where a maintenance man found her body, police said.

Police arrested Crawley, a dispatcher for Guilford Metro 911 in Greensboro, five days later.

Durham County Chief Assistant District Attorney David Saacks said in his opening statement that Crawley had a previous relationship with Jermeir Stroud, a Greensboro police officer engaged to Smith, and that she wouldn't let go.

Crawley drove to Smith's apartment complex the day before the shooting to scout it out and then returned early the next morning, where she ambushed Smith and shot her in the back of the head, Saacks told jurors.

The maintenance man saw Crawley pulling out of the complex parking lot after the shooting and said she was crying, Saacks said.

Defense attorney Scott Holmes put the same scene in a different light during his opening statement. He said Crawley feared for her safety around Stroud, whom he called manipulative and controlling.

Stroud and Crawley drove together to Durham the day before Smith was killed so they could discuss their relationship, Holmes said. The pair returned to the apartment complex the next morning, and Crawley heard Stroud arguing with someone as she sat in the SUV, the attorney told jurors.

After Crawley heard a gunshot, Stroud ran back to the SUV and jumped in the back, Holmes said. He was hiding there when the maintenance man stopped Crawley to ask about the gunshot, Holmes said.

Superior Court Judge Ronald Stephens ruled Wednesday that Crawley's statements to police that she had an abortion before she and Stroud broke up and her claim that he raped her more than a year after Smith's death may be admitted as evidence in the trial.

http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/7000721/
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Old 02-17-2010, 05:19 PM
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Arrow Suspect in NCCU student's death says she feared for her children

Suspect in NCCU student's death says she feared for her children

Posted: Today at 1:15 p.m.
Updated: 27 minutes ago

Durham, N.C. — The woman accused of killing a North Carolina Central University graduate more than three years ago told police that her former boyfriend pulled the trigger and threatened her children if she didn't accompany him.

Prosecutors played a videotape of a May 2007 police interview of Shannon Elizabeth Crawley as they wrapped up their case against her.

Crawley, 28, of Greensboro, is charged with murder in the Jan. 4, 2007, death of Denita Monique Smith.

The defense is expected to start presenting its case Thursday.

Smith, 25, was shot once in the back of the head and fell down a stairwell at Campus Crossing Apartments in Durham, police said. A maintenance man found her body on a sidewalk.

As the trial began last week, Crawley's attorney said Smith's fiance, Jermeir Stroud, was the killer, calling him manipulative and controlling and saying Crawley followed him out of fear.

Stroud, a Greensboro police officer, testified that he dated both women at the same time but broke up with Crawley shortly after she became pregnant and had an abortion. Smith never knew about his other relationship, but Crawley did, he said.

Prosecutors have argued that Crawley stalked Smith in a jealous rage because she had a previous relationship with Stroud.

During her police interview four months after her arrest, Crawley told investigators that Stroud didn't want her to have an abortion and even asked her to marry him. He became despondent after she rejected him, and he tried to commit suicide, she said.

Crawley, a former Guilford Metro 911 dispatcher, told police that Stroud would repeatedly call her at work and stare at her in the hallway. She was so fearful of him that she bought a gun but then threw it away because she was afraid to have it around, she said.

The day before Smith was killed, she said, Stroud forced her to drive to Durham, and they returned the following day. On the second trip, she said, he got out at an apartment complex and was gone for several minutes before returning, ordering her to get into the driver's seat of an SUV and hiding in the back.

Crawley told investigators that Stroud had forced her to go places with him before. On the day Smith was killed, she said, he told her he would kill her children if she didn't go with him.

"He said, 'Either your children die, or you die for your children,'" she said in the videotaped interview.

Her fear prevented her from contacting police before her arrest, she said.

”I’d do absolutely anything for them. I’d protect them at any cost. He knew that," she said.

“I don’t know what I did to make him do this to me. I don’t what she did that he thinks was so horrible that he had to kill her. I don’t know. All I know is I didn’t do anything to her,” Crawley told police.

"I didn't know her. I didn't know where she lived. I didn't know anything about her," she said.

After jurors finished watching the tape, Crawley's attorney, Scott Holmes, grilled Shawn Pace, an investigator with the Durham Police Department, about why Stroud was never a suspect in Smith's death.

"Is it fair to say, in your investigation, other than his word he didn’t do it, (that Stroud) did not have a hard alibi that made it impossible for him to have done this?" Holmes asked.

"I cannot (agree) nor disagree,” Pate responded, adding that police never searched Stroud's car or home.

http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/7063434/
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Old 02-18-2010, 04:41 PM
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Arrow Suspect in NCCU student's death testifies in own defense

Suspect in NCCU student's death testifies in own defense
Shannon Crawley in court

Posted: Today at 3:27 p.m.
Updated: 7 minutes ago

Durham, N.C. — The woman accused of killing a North Carolina Central University graduate student more than three years ago stuck to her story Thursday that her former boyfriend pulled the trigger and provided recordings of phone conversations to back it up.

Shannon Elizabeth Crawley, 28, of Greensboro, is charged with murder in the Jan. 4, 2007, death of Denita Monique Smith. Closing arguments in the trial are set for Friday after Crawley's testimony highlighted the defense's case.

Smith, 25, was shot once in the back of the head and fell down a stairwell at Campus Crossing Apartments in Durham, police said. A maintenance man found her body on a sidewalk.

Prosecutors have argued that Crawley stalked Smith in a jealous rage because she had a previous relationship with Jermeir Stroud, a Greensboro police officer engaged to Smith.

Stroud testified last week that he dated both women at the same time but broke up with Crawley shortly after she became pregnant and had an abortion. Smith never knew about his other relationship, but Crawley did, he said.

Crawley testified Thursday that Stroud stalked her after the abortion, calling her repeatedly at her job as a Guilford Metro 911 dispatcher and following her when she was driving.

She said she was fearful of him and said often did what he said only to protect her children from him.

The day before Smith was killed, Crawley said, Stroud drove her to Durham, and they returned the following morning. During the second trip, she said, Stroud got out of the SUV, and she heard a brief argument followed by a gunshot.

When Stroud ran back to the SUV, she said, he began to back out before jumping into the back seat and ordering her to drive.

"I didn't know what he had done, and I didn't know what he was going to do to me," she said.

The story mirrors one she gave to Durham police investigators during a May 2007 interview. A videotape of that interview was played for jurors Wednesday.

During her testimony Thursday, Crawley played recordings of what she said were phone conversations between her and Stroud.

"You need to tell the truth. You know you did it. I am charged with murder for something I didn't do," Crawley said in one recording.

A man replied in a whisper, "I know. I'm sorry. I can't say I did the shooting. That would mean life in prison."

Prosecutors challenged Crawley on why she did not immediately go to police to tell officers what she knew.

"And you are trying to tell the jury that you had no idea what just happened there?" Durham County Chief Assistant District Attorney David Saacks asked.

"I didn't see anyone," Crawley replied.

http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/7073769/
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Old 02-19-2010, 04:37 PM
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Arrow Defense: No evidence links suspect to NCCU student's death

Defense: No evidence links suspect to NCCU student's death
Shannon Crawley testifies


Posted: Today at 6:33 a.m.
Updated: 3 minutes ago

Durham, N.C. — The attorney for the woman accused of killing a North Carolina Central University graduate student more than three years ago argued Friday that prosecutors hadn't proved their case.

The prosecutor responded by saying that Shannon Elizabeth Crawley was trying to frame her former boyfriend for murder.

Crawley, 28, is charged with murder in the Jan. 4, 2007, shooting death of Denita Monique Smith, 25.

Smith was shot in the head at Campus Crossing Apartments in Durham and then fell down a stairwell to the sidewalk, where a maintenance man found her body, police said.

Jurors deliberated for more than two hours Friday before heading home for the weekend. Deliberations are expected to resume Monday morning.

In his closing argument, defense attorney Scott Holmes told jurors that there was no evidence linking Crawley to Smith's slaying. He also pointed the finger again at Smith's fiance, Greensboro police officer Jermeir Stroud.

Authorities have maintained that Crawley stalked Smith in a jealous rage because she had a previous relationship with Stroud.

Crawley told police months after her arrest and told jurors Thursday that Stroud was the stalker. He begged her not to have an abortion and repeatedly called her and followed her.

She said she feared him and did what he said only to protect her children from him.

Crawley testified that Stroud drove her to Durham on the morning Smith was killed. He left the SUV for several minutes, she said, and she heard a brief argument followed by a gunshot.

When Stroud ran back to the SUV, she said, he began to back out before jumping into the back seat and ordering her to drive.

Durham County Chief Assistant District Attorney David Saacks said in his closing argument that Crawley's story was incredible and that she was trying to frame Stroud.

"She’s trying to play us," Saacks told jurors. "It is exactly what it appears to be. She is trying to set up Jermeir. She took out Denita, and she wants to get Jermeir. There’s no other rational explanation for this”

Holmes criticized police for not investigating Stroud as a suspect in Smith's slaying. He also called Stroud a liar, saying he was dating Crawley while he was engaged to Smith and he later was evasive with police about the extent of his relationship with Crawley.

"Do you believe Jermeir Stroud? Do you really believe Jermeir Stroud?" Holmes asked jurors Friday.

Crawley was trapped in a cycle of abuse, he said, which explains why she didn't seek help when Stroud showed up and forced her to go to Durham. That allowed Stroud to frame her for Smith's killing.

"Jermeir committed the murder," he said.

During Crawley's testimony Thursday, the defense played recordings of what she said were phone conversations between her and Stroud. In one recording, a man acknowledged in a whisper that he had killed Smith but couldn't go to prison for it.

Saacks argued Friday that the recordings were phony.

”That doesn’t even sound like Jermeir, does it? It sounds like Michael Jackson, doesn’t it?” he said. "Does anybody truly believe that that makes any kind of sense, that somebody who did the things that she is saying Jermeir did would call and say those kind of things – basically just confess and admit to killing Denita?”

http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/7078524/
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Old 02-22-2010, 05:09 PM
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Thumbs up Romantic rival convicted in NCCU student's slaying

Romantic rival convicted in NCCU student's slaying
Shannon Crawley testifies

Posted: Today at 10:26 a.m.
Updated: 44 minutes ago

Durham, N.C. — A jury on Monday found a former Guilford Metro 911 dispatcher guilty of killing a North Carolina Central University graduate student more than three years ago.

Jurors deliberated for about seven hours over two days before convicting Shannon Elizabeth Crawley of first-degree murder in the Jan. 4, 2007, shooting death of Denita Monique Smith.

Smith, 25, was shot in the head at Campus Crossing Apartments in Durham and then fell down a stairwell to the sidewalk, where a maintenance man found her body, police said.

"Someday, I may forgive you, but I don't right now," Smith's mother, Sharon Smith, told Crawley during sentencing. "I hope you rot in hell."

Crawley, 28, made no statement before Superior Court Judge Ronald Stephens sentenced her to life in prison without parole.

"I was thankful to God for the guilty verdict because I was glad that Denita didn't get murdered twice," her father, Calvian Smith, said after the trial. "In my opinion, the evidence spoke for itself. It couldn't have been no other verdict but a guilty verdict."

Authorities maintained that Crawley stalked Smith in a jealous rage because she had a former relationship with Smith's fiance, Greensboro police officer Jermeir Stroud.

Crawley contended that Stroud stalked her and killed Smith. She said she feared Stroud and did what he said only to protect her children from him.

She testified last week that Stroud drove her to Durham on the morning Smith was killed. He left the SUV for several minutes, she said, and she heard a brief argument followed by a gunshot.

When Stroud ran back to the SUV, she said, he began to back out before jumping into the back seat and ordering her to drive off.

"Now, (it's) my daughter who is the perfect victim," Ann Crawley said after the trial. "The perfect victim for someone like Jermeir Stroud has now been convicted of a murder that he committed."

Calvian Smith said he remains angry with Stroud, who admitted during the trial that he dated Shannon Crawley and Denita Smith at the same time. Calvian Smith said he doesn't think Stroud did enough to protect his daughter.

Monday's verdict came after Stephens denied a request by Crawley's attorney for a mistrial.

Jurors asked Monday morning to listen to recordings of what Crawley said were phone conversations between her and Stroud.

In one recording, a man acknowledged in a whisper that he had killed Smith but couldn't go to prison for it.

Defense attorney Scott Holmes complained that jurors were hearing more material on the tapes than they heard during the trial.

"There are substantially new materials that I did not have the opportunity to address in my closing argument," Holmes said. "I think it violates her Sixth Amendment right to counsel to now have stuff played for the jury that was not put in the state’s evidence and published to them. They had the opportunity to publish that entire tape during the case.”

Stephens denied Holmes' motion for a mistrial and allowed jurors to listen to the tapes. The tapes were put into evidence in their entirety, the judge said, and the fact that only portions were played for the jury during the trial was irrelevant.

Durham County Chief Assistant District Attorney David Saacks told Stephens that Holmes had access to all of the recordings "for two years" to prepare for trial.

Holmes said he plans to appeal the verdict.

http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/7092468/
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