Local News

Romantic rival convicted in NCCU student's slaying

Posted February 22, 2010
Updated February 23, 2010

— 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.

Denita Monique Smith Student's family grateful for verdict

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, Calvain 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," Anne Crawley said after the trial. "The perfect victim for someone like Jermeir Stroud has now been convicted of a murder that he committed."

"If it is the last thing I ever do, I will prove that he is the one that actually committed that crime,” said Crawley's father, Keith Crawley.

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

"Jermeir Stroud caused a perfect storm to happen and then walked away from it, and that was unfortunate for everyone in this case,” Stephens said as he sentenced Crawley.

Greensboro Police Chief Tim Bellamy said Stroud was never a suspect in Smith's death, adding that he never heard any allegations linking the officer to the case until Crawley's defense brought it up in the trial

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.


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  • issymayake Feb 24, 2010

    Some of yall have much better investigative techniques than the police. . because you're apparently convinced that the fiance' killed the girl, even thought there is no motive and it's downright illogical. As I stated earlier, read the Campus Echo, or even the Herald Sun version of the story. WRAL's stories, as usual, have just enough slant to keep you coming back reading instead of presenting things as cut and dry.

  • aknight Feb 24, 2010

    I don't really think the young lady did the killer along, I do believe Mr dude was in on this murder,but if he was it will come to light and I hope they fry his but. These officers are out here to protect the public and they are just as guilty for breaking the law as everybody else. But because they wear these badges they are not being investigated like other citizens but God will have the last saying. I really sympatize with both of the young ladies,but I do hope if anyone else was involved the truth will come out

  • issymayake Feb 23, 2010

    read the reports wildcat. . .he and Crawley had broken off their relationship in 2005 after the abortion. She was stalking the couple and tried to frame him for rape and the murder. Fatal attraction style.

    Please read the Campus Echo version of the testimony. . it's much more comprehensive than the WRAL version.


  • vsusu2002 Feb 23, 2010

    Chole said "This will be on Snapped"

    You are right. I will be give it about a year (maybe 2) before it is aired.

  • Tired of thoughtlessness Feb 23, 2010

    Are you reading? Her last name is Crawley, and she is 28.

    Not sure who the 30 year old Crowley is.

  • Tired of thoughtlessness Feb 23, 2010

    Please recognize that this was over several years.
    If it was over, then why did he continue to have a sexual relationship with Crowley? This was very wrong and misleading. Wasn't it?

    You are so intent on posting with yourself, that you are not reading.
    The relationship(s) lasted off and on for several years.

  • wildcat Feb 23, 2010

    Pray for all our young people - male and females that they will listen and make good choices.

  • Tired of thoughtlessness Feb 23, 2010

    Why was she crying hysterically if she just killed her rival?

  • wildcat Feb 23, 2010

    Stephens denied a request by Crawley's attorney for a mistrial.

    Crowley tried all angles to be free but in the end she was found guilty of first degree murder.

  • wildcat Feb 23, 2010

    Vote before the story will be gone from Golo.