Crawley guilty of murder in Smith case

Staff WriterFebruary 22, 2010 

Convicted murderer Shannon Elizabeth Crawley, left, stands with her defense attorney, C. Scott Holmes, in Durham Superior Court to hear her sentence of life without parole from Judge Ronald Stephens.

HARRY LYNCH - HLYNCH@NEWSOBSERVER.COM

— Shannon Crawley will spend the rest of her life in prison after a jury found her guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Denita Smith, an N.C. Central University graduate student shot to death in 2007.

The jury did not believe Crawley's story that her ex-lover, Greensboro police officer Jermeir Stroud, had shot Smith.

Smith's mother, Sharon Smith, told Crawley: "Some day I may forgive you, but I don't. Right now I hope you rot in hell."

Crawley had a relationship with Stroud, and the prosecution argued she killed Smith, Stroud's fiancee, out of jealousy. Assistant District Attorney David Saacks emphasized last week how Crawley had changed her story speaking to witnesses, police investigators and the court over the past three years.

She made differing statements about whether she had lived at Smith's apartment complex, whether she went to a doctor's appointment the morning of Smith's murder, whether she had ever been to Durham and whether she had ever possessed a gun.

"This story is shifting more than the sands of the Sahara," Saacks said. "It seems to change every time there's a new piece of evidence that comes up."

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