Local News

Fiance suspected ex-girlfriend in NCCU student's death

Posted February 11, 2010

— A Greensboro police officer said Thursday that he immediately suspected his ex-girlfriend when he heard something had happened to his fiancee three years ago.

Jermeir Stroud testified that his suspicions led him to tip off Durham police that Shannon Elizabeth Crawley might have killed Denita Monique Smith.

Jermeir Stroud, Denita Smith's fiance Officer testifies about fiancee's slaying

Crawley, 28, of Greensboro, is charged with murder in the Jan. 4, 2007, death of Smith, a 25-year-old North Carolina Central University graduate student. Smith 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.

Stroud said he was at home in Greensboro when he got a call from Smith's mother saying her daughter had been hurt.

"I knew it was something pretty sudden, and one of the things that popped through my head, based on my recent interactions with Shannon, was that maybe she had done something," he testified.

Police arrested Crawley, a dispatcher for Guilford Metro 911 in Greensboro, five days after the shooting.

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

Stroud 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, he said, and shortly before her death, Crawley saw the couple in church.

In 2008, Stroud said, Crawley accused him of raping her. The case was investigated by Charlotte police, but no charges were filed.

Defense attorney Scott Holmes told jurors in his opening statement Wednesday that Stroud killed Smith during an argument and then fled with Crawley back to Greensboro.

Holmes called Stroud manipulative and controlling and said Crawley went with him to Durham out of fear.

He didn't press the point during cross-examination Thursday. Instead, he tried to paint the relationship between Stroud and Crawley as something more than Stroud said it was.

Stroud accompanied Crawley to doctor's appointments, Holmes said, and he checked on her repeatedly when she had to travel for a death in her family.

"Is it fair to say you could have called 10 times in one day?" Holmes asked.

"It's possible, but I don't recall the amount of times I called," Stroud replied.

Earlier Thursday, Michael Hedgepeth, the maintenance man who found Smith's body, testified that he saw a woman who matched Crawley's description pulling out of the apartment complex's parking lot on the morning of the shooting.

Hedgepeth said he had heard what sounded like gunfire and he found the woman crying hysterically in the driver's seat of an SUV. He said she wanted him to stay with her, but then she drove off when he went to check on the source of the gunfire.

10 Comments

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  • thewayicit Feb 12, 7:10 p.m.

    in response to MTR-it looks like this maintenance man witness just may be in the 25% group that you referred to because he's proving more reliable and a hero in my book concerning this case. Had he not even seen the def. at the scene and been able to identify her vehicle, the cop/fiance would not have made the connection in order to give a suspect name as a result to the investigator and we all would think there was a random murderer on the loose. He's been consistent thus far even going back to being the first caller reporting the incident to 911...for that, I thank him for coming forward because alot times bystanders turn a blind's eye and don't want to get involved in something like this.

  • GinaH Feb 12, 11:27 a.m.

    No man is worth murdering someone and ending up in prison. Good grief find yourself another man!

  • 1 of the original Americans Feb 12, 9:27 a.m.

    wow... I knew there was way more to this story when it first came out! If the boyfriend didn't kill her i feel he is still somewhat responsible. To all the cheating men out there that could care less about who they are hurting... look what can happen. This woman died because he was dishonest and selfish!!

  • mtr Feb 12, 8:39 a.m.

    Prancy, You have maybe watched to many CSI episodes.
    All you see on there is not what is possible.

    I get that this maintenance man is an eye witness, but that is about as reliable as flipping a coin. If you look at the innocence project where DNA has cleared over 250 people so far, you will see that 75% of eye witnesses were wrong or lying.

    http://www.innocenceproject.org/understand/Eyewitness-Misidentification.php

  • Prancy Feb 11, 6:17 p.m.

    They should be able to tell how tall the shooter was by the projectory of the bullet into the girl's head. If the def. and the boyfriend have different heights, the numbers should reveal the truth.

  • Prancy Feb 11, 6:04 p.m.

    Let's hope the boyfriend had his cell phone on during this time period. They should be able to track his location during that time. He said he got a call from the deceased girl's mother saying she had been shot. I wonder where he was when he got the call. They should have done all that tracking BEFORE trial. Hope his cell phone wasn't off during this time. That would really help the defense.

  • AtALost Feb 11, 5:51 p.m.

    Her defense is claiming the boyfriend was in the SUV. The maintenance man saw her backing out and crying. No reason for him to kill his fiancee. She's just trying to create reasonable doubt.

  • Prancy Feb 11, 5:37 p.m.

    This new story makes no sense. Yesterday they said that she was driving away from the apts. with her boyfriend in the back of her SUV. (She claims the boyfriend had just shot the girl.) Now the mainentance man says the def. asked him to stay with her. Why would she do that if she had her boyfriend in the back of the car? Wouldn't her boyfriend would have told her to keep driving and not stop to talk to anyone? And, wouldn't the maintenance man have noticed a man in the back of the SUV? I have a lot of questions about this case.

  • Chole Feb 11, 3:36 p.m.

    I guess she snapped! so sad all behind a man.

  • deyday Feb 11, 3:22 p.m.

    Innocent until proven guilty, ok. If your a cop and he's a cop then you know how to get an restaining order and protect your self if needed be, you have a gun permit. If he doesn't want you or the baby then move on not follow him and the next girlfriend/ fiancee around. She was seen leaving the area after a gun shot was heard and didn't offer aid, go straight to her superiors to tell any one of the situation. She's out on bail and the other poor girl is dead.