Wit­nesses re­count stu­dent’s killing

De­fense says sus­pect in school stab­bing had been bul­lied by the vic­tim

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

Wanda Quick no­ticed Donte Craw­ford right away when he walked into the bi­ol­ogy lab at Bal­ti­more Re­nais­sance Academy where she was teach­ing last Novem­ber. He wasn’t sup­posed to be there. Within sec­onds Craw­ford had knocked an­other stu­dent, Ana­nias Jol­ley, from a stool. The boys strug­gled on the floor, Craw­ford on top, Quick said. She re­al­ized some­thing ter­ri­ble had hap­pened when both boys jumped up and ran out the room, Jol­ley hold­ing his stom­ach and bleed­ing.

Quick was one of more than a dozen wit­nesses who tes­ti­fied Thurs­day dur­ing the sec­ond day of the trial of Craw­ford, who is ac­cused of stab­bing Jol­ley. Jol­ley died at Mary­land Shock Trauma Cen­ter a month af­ter the Nov. 24 in­ci­dent.

Craw­ford is charged with first-de­gree mur­der and pos­ses­sion of a deadly weapon with in­tent to harm in the case be­fore Judge Melissa Phinn in Bal­ti­more Cir­cuit Court.

The pros­e­cu­tion put sev­eral wit­nesses on the stand to lay out its case that Craw­ford in­tended to hurt his class­mate. The de­fense coun­tered with tes­ti­mony from oth­ers that Craw­ford was afraid be­cause he had been threat­ened by Jol­ley and his friends for months.

School po­lice of­fi­cer Court­ney Moore de­scribed the chaotic scene he found af­ter be­ing dis­patched to the school. Jol­ley lay on the floor sur­rounded by staff; there was a large amount of blood. He cut open Jol­ley’s shirt and per­formed CPR un­til medics came.

Prin­ci­pal Nikkia Rowe and men­tors from the school de­scribed see­ing Jol­ley stum­ble down the hall bleed­ing. Jol­ley even­tu­ally fell into men­tor Corey Wither­spoon’s arms.

“He was try­ing to breathe,” Wither­spoon said. “He started throw­ing up, so I turned him over.”

Rowe, Wither­spoon and po­lice said they did not see Craw­ford run from the build­ing. But the pros­e­cu­tion showed video of Craw­ford head­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion from Jol­ley and out the school. He was ar­rested shortly af­ter walk­ing to his home on Vine Street.

The clip was part of sev­eral min­utes of video pros­e­cu­tors showed to the jury that in­cluded Craw­ford pac­ing in the hall as well as the area where Jol­ley lay bleed­ing be­fore medics ar­rived. The court­room was silent dur­ing the video, which was shown only to the jury and at­tor­neys. Ju­rors watched in­tently, most dis­play­ing lit­tle re­ac­tion. One man sighed heav­ily at the end.

Tears welled up in Craw­ford’s eyes as the video was shown.

The video only de­picted what hap­pened out­side the class­room. Quick was the only wit­ness to tes­tify about what went on in­side.

De­fense lawyer Jonas Needle­man ques­tioned Quick about her rec­ol­lec­tion, ask­ing if she had seen Craw­ford be­fore. She had not. Had she seen a weapon? She had not. Needle­man then asked if she was sure it was Craw­ford and whether any­one had told her he had com­mit­ted the crime.

She ac­knowl­edged she’d seen re­ports on the news but stuck to her claim that it was Craw­ford she saw in her class­room.

“I re­mem­ber his eyes,” Quick said. “I re­mem­ber look­ing di­rectly in his face.”

Needle­man also called sev­eral fam­ily mem­bers who said that Jol­ley and his friends had been bul­ly­ing Craw­ford for months.

Craw­ford’s cousin James McCarter said he was there dur­ing one fight when a group “banked,” or kicked and punched, Craw­ford re­peat­edly.

An­other cousin, Brit­tany Step­ney, tes­ti­fied that fam­ily mem­bers had tried to get Craw­ford taken out of Re­nais­sance and away from Jol­ley and oth­ers who were threat­en­ing him.

Fam­ily mem­bers for Craw­ford and Jol­ley filled the court­room Thurs­day. Jol­ley’s mother, Tif­fany Jol­ley, wept into a tis­sue as Wither­spoon de­scribed her son stum­bling down the hall. Craw­ford’s mother, Latasha Craw­ford, called out en­cour­ag­ing words to her son as he was led out in shack­les dur­ing a break.

“I love you, son,” she said. “Do you hear me? I love you.”

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