Trial opens for teenager ac­cused of killing class­mate

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By An­drea K. McDaniels am­c­daniels@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/ankwalker

Pros­e­cu­tors de­scribed Donte Craw­ford as a trou­bled teenager with a plan last Novem­ber when he waited for a class­mate at Bal­ti­more Re­nais­sance Acade­myto ar­rive at school, fol­lowed him­into a class­room and stabbed him.

But at­tor­neys for the 18-year-old Craw­ford said he had re­ceived threats all day that he was go­ing to be killed af­ter school and felt threat­ened by Ana­nias Jol­ley. Craw­ford in­tended to fight Jol­ley, at­tor­ney Jonas Needle­man said, not kill him.

Craw­ford is charged with first-de­gree mur­der and pos­ses­sion of a deadly weapon with in­tent to harm. Two starkly dif­fer­ent pic­tures of the teenager emerged dur­ing the first day of his trial Wed­nes­day­be­fore Judge Melissa Phinn in Bal­ti­more Cir­cuit Court.

Craw­ford was ar­rested in front of his home on Vine Street af­ter the stab­bing. Jol­ley, 17, was taken to Mary­land Shock Trauma Cen­ter, where he was re­moved from life sup­port and died the next month.

The at­tack stunned Bal­ti­more Re­nais­sance Academy, a pub­lic high school known for its in­tense men­tor­ing pro­gram for trou­bled boys. Craw­ford and Jol­ley were both in the pro­gram.

Pros­e­cu­tor Bethany Du­rand told the jury that video footage will prove Craw­ford lay in wait for his vic­tim. She said Craw­ford stabbed Jol­ley steps away from Prin­ci­pal Nikkia Rowe and some of the school’s men­tors.

“He was watch­ing and he was wait­ing,” Du­rand said. “He was out­side of bi­ol­ogy Room300­pac­ing back and forth. … Sec­onds af­ter Mr. Jol­ley goes in the room, a cry comes out.”

An au­topsy showed Jol­ley was stabbed once in the left chest and that the left ven­tri­cle of his heart was cut, Du­rand said. He was then stabbed an­other time in the heart. He also had cuts on his right arm and hand.

Needle­man said there is no doubt that Craw­ford was present. But he said the school sur­veil­lance video doesn’t show what hap­pened in the class­room.

He said Craw­ford wouldn’t have killed a class­mate know­ing there was video sur­veil­lance through­out the school and teach­ers and stu­dents so close by.

Needle­man noted that Craw­ford walked home and didn’t try to hide. He didn’t re­sist when po­lice of­fi­cers ar­rested him, or try to hide the bloody clothes he was wear­ing.

“Donte Craw­ford is no mur­derer,” Needle­man said. “He is no killer. He is no as­sas­sin.”

Needle­man said Craw­ford and Jol­ley had fought for months. Craw­ford was not from the neigh­bor­hood and seen as an out­sider — some­one easy to pick on, Needle­man told ju­rors.

At the time, po­lice said the teenagers and class­mates had been in al­ter­ca­tions be­fore.

Craw­ford had asked for help, Needle­man said, but the school ad­min­is­tra­tion didn’t do enough to in­ter­vene.

“School was a dan­ger­ous place, and he felt en­dan­gered,” Needle­man said of Craw­ford.

On Wednes­day, the pros­e­cu­tion called to the wit­ness stand the po­lice of­fi­cer who ar­rested Craw­ford and three foren­sic and lab tech­ni­cians who­took­blood sam­ples and other ev­i­dence the day of the crime. They said that Craw­ford had blood on his clothes and some bruis­ing on his chest and back, but no cut­ting in­juries.

The trial is sched­uled to re­sume this morn­ing.

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