On Dateline NBC’s episode titled “Internal Affairs,” Josh Mankiewicz reports on the murder of Denita Monique Smith in North Carolina on January 4, 2007.
In the episode, Dateline NBC will speak with members of Smith’s family as well as police investigators and crime experts who will give their opinion on the case.
The episode will retrace what happened to Smith in January 2007 and what happened in the investigation following investigators’ realization that she had been shot.
Here’s what you should know about Denita Monique Smith’s murder:
1. Denita Smith Was 25 Years Old at the Time of Her Death & Was a Graduate Student
At the time of her death, Smith was a 25-year-old graduate student at North Carolina Central University in Durham with hopes to become a photojournalist.
According to the Dateline episode, Smith had a busy day ahead of her since she was getting ready to start classes back up following the holiday break.
Smith’s best friend, Edith Crawley-Kearns, got a phone call from her brother who lived in the same apartment complex as Smith to let her know that something was going on and ask if she had heard from her best friend.
2. The Person Who Called 911 Thought Smith Had Fallen Down the Stairs
In the 911 call, which is played in part on the Dateline episode, the caller told the dispatcher that they believed a woman had fallen down the stairs at the complex.
According to Case Law for the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the caller was Corey Smith, a resident in the complex who was on his way to work when he discovered Smith’s body and realized she was not breathing.
A paramedic named Corolla Lauck, who was one of the first people on the scene, determined that Smith was already dead by the time they got there.
3. Eyewitnesses Saw the Suspect Run Away After Hearing a Shot Fired
According to Case Text, the maintenance director for the Campus Crossings Apartments in Durham heard a shot fired and witnessed a woman running from the back to the front of the complex.
The witness described the route as “unusual” and said he saw the young woman driving away in a burgundy SUV. He testified that the woman was hysterical about the gunshot, and he told her to wait while he called the police, but he did not see her after he called the police.
He later described the woman as a Black female, around 5 feet 10 inches tall with a ponytail.
Police left without filing a report because they were unable to find the source of the gunshot.
It was later discovered that Smith was shot in the head and fell down the stairwell to the sidewalk.
4. Officer Jermeir Stroud, Smith’s Fiance, Had an Affair With Shannon Crawley
Smith’s fiance, officer Jermeir Stroud, was having sex with another woman named Shannon Crawley according to Inquisitr. Crawley worked as a local 911 dispatcher at the same police department where Stroud worked.
According to the Inquisitr article, when Crawley saw Smith with Stroud for the first time at church, she decided that she wanted her rival dead and out of the way.
Crawley was charged with murder in Smith’s death, but Crawley said that Stroud was with her at the time and had been hiding in the back of the SUV when she talked to the maintenance man after the gunshot. According to Case Text, Crawley said Stroud had gotten out of the car, argued with Smith and then she heard a gunshot.
Stroud said that he had been in a relationship with Crawley previously but that it had ended in 2005.
Investigators told Dateline NBC that Crawley was obsessed with Stroud and enraged with Smith that she obtained a gun and shot Smith in the back of the head when she left her apartment.
5. Crawley Is Currently Serving Life in Prison Without the Possibility of Parole for the Murder
Jurors deliberated for about seven hours before convicting Crawley of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Smith.
According to ABC 11, when the jury came back with the guilty conviction, the judge immediately sentenced Crawley to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“Because of what Shannon did there is a void. You took her away from me,” said Smith’s mother at the sentencing. “Someday I may forgive you, but right now I don’t and I hope you rot in hell. You’re vile. You don’t deserve to be a mother.”
Crawley’s father, Keith Crawley, said that he will continue to try to prove that Stroud was the one who committed the crime.
“I won’t rest and I won’t stop until he’s where he belongs, in jail,” Keith Crawley said.