Jury finds Crawley guilty

Shannon Crawley testified on her own behalf. She was convicted of murdering NCCU student Denita Smith.
February 21, 2010 9:00:00 PM PST
The jury in the Shannon Crawley trial found her guilty of first-degree murder in the 2008 shooting of NCCU graduate student Denita Smith Monday.

The judge immediately sentenced her to life in prison without parole.

Crawley appeared stunned at the verdict. When the judge asked if she wanted to say anything, she sat silent.

Denita Smith's parents both addressed Crawley.

"Because of what Shannon did there is a void. You took her away from me," said Smith's mother. "Someday I may forgive you, but right now I don't and I hope you rot in hell. You're vile. You don't deserve to be a mother."

During the trial, Crawley maintained her innocence, saying she did not shoot Smith and didn't even know the victim.

The jury began deliberating Friday. On Monday, the defense moved for a mistrial after jurors listened to phone calls that weren't introduced into evidence.

According to the defense, that was grounds for a retrial. The judge denied the motion. The jury continued listening to recorded calls Monday that were allegedly made by the victim's fianc? to Crawley.

Also Monday, jury members asked to see several items, including video of Smith's home and pictures of Crawley's vehicle.

Crawley and Smith were allegedly entangled in a love triangle with Greensboro police officer Jermeir Stroud, who also was Smith's fianc?.

Defense lawyers tried to pin the murder on Stroud - who denied involvement.

Crawley testified on her behalf, telling the court she and Stroud were in a relationship, and she was pregnant with his child months before the murder but terminated the pregnancy.

She also testified that on the morning of the murder, she accompanied Stroud to Durham and claimed that's when Stroud shot Smith outsider her apartment.

"If the last thing I ever do, I will prove that he is the one who actually committed that crime," Crawley's father Keith Crawley said. "I won't rest and I won't stop until he's where he belongs, in jail."

Crawley was a 911 operator in Greensboro at the time of the crime.

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