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. The episode will be re-aired tonight, July 25, 2020.
In the episode, Dateline NBC’s Josh Mankiewicz speaks with members of Smith’s family as well as police investigators and crime experts who will give their opinion on the case.
The episode details what happened to Smith in January 2007 and what happened in the investigation following investigators’ realization that she had been shot as well as what happened in the trial.
Shannon Elizabeth Crawley was convicted of the murder and was sentenced to life in prison.
Prosecutors Argued Crawley Murdered Smith Due to Jealousy and a Love Triangle
Smith was a 25-year-old graduate student at North Carolina Central University when she was shot and killed. She was engaged to Officer Jermeir Stroud and had been in a relationship with him for over a year.
Stroud was having sex with another woman named Shannon Crawley according to Inquisitr, though Stroud said he had ended the relationship with Crawley in 2005.
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.
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.
Crawley Alleged that Stroud Killed Smith
— Dateline NBC (@DatelineNBC) July 25, 2020
Crawley was charged with murder in Smith’s death, and she pleaded not guilty.
During the trial, Crawley alleged 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.
Crawley maintains her innocence in the murder, sticking with her story that Stroud killed Smith. She also falsely accused Stroud of raping her one year after the murder according to Murderpedia. According to Case Law, Officer Stroud would have had to travel at “approximately 120 miles per hour without stopping for red lights to have committed the rape.”
Jurors deliberated for about seven hours before convicting Crawley of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Smith. The conviction came on February 22, 2010, and Crawley filed an appeal on February 23, 2010.
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.
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.