Trial continues for student accused of killing Renaissance Academy classmate

Trial continues for student who stabbed classmate Renaissance Academy

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 of 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 committed the crime.

She acknowledged she'd seen it 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. At one point, McCarter said, his stepfather went with the teenagers to Jolley's house to "squash" the issue and make peace. Jolley wasn't home, McCarter said.

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."

The stabbing stunned Baltimore Renaissance Academy, a public high school known for its intense mentoring program for troubled boys, called Seeds of Promise. Crawford and Jolley were both in the program. Social workers from the University of Maryland also work in the school through a program called Promise Heights.

amcdaniels@baltsun.com

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