NCCU student murder trial delayed again

DURHAM For the third time, a judge has continued the murder trial for a Greensboro woman accused of killing Denita Smith, 25, at her apartment complex in 2007. Shannon Crawley, 29, a former Guilford County 911 dispatcher, is facing first-degree murder charges.

The trial was set to start next month but has been delayed until January 2010, approximately three years from when Smith was murdered.

The case has faced several setbacks, including a ballistic lab test report that was returned late causing the trial to be pushed back to January 2009. The attorney representing the Crawley asked to be removed from the case. According to a court motion, Crawley’s former attorney wanted to be removed if certain conditions weren't met related to an undisclosed ethical dilemma.

When Crawley was assigned a new public defender, the case was postponed to allow the new attorney to prepare for a trial in the fall of this year.

But this week, a scheduling conflict has once again delayed the trial. A new trial date has not been set, but is expected sometime in January.

According to an autopsy report, Smith was shot once in the head from a distance. A maintenance worker discovered her body at the bottom of a stairwell at her apartment complex. He reported seeing a woman leaving the scene of the crime.

Several days later, Crawley was arrested in connection with the shooting and her home and SUV were searched for evidence. Court documents indicate Smith's fiancé believed Crawley had been stalking the couple.

Crawley is out of jail on a $175,000 bond awaiting trial.

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