NORRISTOWN — Jurors, solemn expressions on their faces, viewed chilling surveillance video that captured the alleged murder of a woman on the parking lot of her Whitemarsh workplace and listened to a frantic 911 call from her coworker.
“Oh my God he just ran her over. He keeps coming back. Oh my God! Oh my God, he keeps running her over,” Nadirah Muhammad’s screams rang out from the 911 recording as she described a three-ton vehicle repeatedly striking her coworker Angela Maya Stith as Stith lay injured from a knife attack on the parking lot outside Vector Security in Whitemarsh.
Muhammad was the first witness called to testify by Montgomery County prosecutors on Tuesday as the trial for Stith’s accused killer, Lawrence Maurice Crawley, got under way. District Attorney Kevin R. Steele alleged Crawley attacked Stith about 2:25 a.m. Aug. 3, 2018, while she was on a workplace break on a rear parking lot of the security business along the 5100 block of Campus Drive.
VIDEO: Accused killer Lawrence Maurice Crawley declines to comment after #MontcoPa prosecutors showed jury surveillance videotape that captured Crawley’s alleged murder of his ex-girlfriend Angela Maya Stith outside her #Whitemarsh workplace pic.twitter.com/v8byBVwz8a— Carl Hessler Jr. (@MontcoCourtNews) January 14, 2020
Video surveillance showed Stith, 33, of Philadelphia, exiting a rear door at Vector Security where she worked as a dispatch operator about 2:13 a.m. and walking to her parked Toyota sedan during her break.
Muhammad, at times weeping as she re-lived the alleged events under questioning by Steele, testified she glanced at surveillance camera monitors inside the business and observed Stith being attacked by a man wearing a hoodie at her car.
“I jumped up and ran outside,” Muhammad recalled, adding she observed Stith lying on the ground, her alleged attacker leaning over her. “She wasn’t getting up. He ran away toward the woods. There was a lot of blood.”
Opening statements will begin shortly at the #trial of Lawrence Maurice Crawley, accused of killing his ex-girlfriend in #Whitemarsh, & later setting himself on fire. #MontcoPa #Court #murder #trial. Stay connected here for the latest developments pic.twitter.com/m5qnvs7Bza— Carl Hessler Jr. (@MontcoCourtNews) January 14, 2020
Stith, according to Muhammad, was able to tell coworkers who came to her aid that she had been stabbed and that a knife was still lodged in her back.
Muhammad testified that as she attended to Stith and called 911 she observed a blue Chevrolet Avalanche vehicle “come around the building and stop for a second.”
“He floored the truck and ran her over,” said Muhammad, recalling the vehicle circled several times on the parking lot and struck Stith four times. “It was going really fast. You could just tell he slammed his foot on the gas.”
Relatives of Stith wiped tears from their eyes as the grainy, black and white video recording of the vehicle assault was played in court. Crawley also appeared to closely watch the footage.
During Opening statement to #MontcoPa jury, Prosecutor Allison Ruth argued Lawrence Maurice Crawley killed his ex-girlfriend with "specific intent to kill," seeking a 1st degree #murder conviction.RUTH: "If he couldn't have her, no one could."— Carl Hessler Jr. (@MontcoCourtNews) January 14, 2020
Crawley, 34, of the 800 block of North 13th Street, Philadelphia, faces charges of first- and third-degree murder and possessing instruments of crime in connection with the alleged attack. The trial before Judge Thomas C. Branca is expected to last several days.
Assistant District Attorney Allison Ruth argued Crawley intended to kill Stith when he stabbed her four times as he attacked her on the parking lot. The attack occurred several days after Stith ended her relationship with Crawley, telling him “It’s over,” Ruth alleged.
“If he couldn’t have her, no one could,” Ruth argued during her opening statement to jurors, adding the final plunge of the knife was “so hard the handle broke off” and the blade remained in Stith’s back.
During opening statement to #MontcoPa jury, defense lawyer Carrie Allman argued Lawrence Crawley, accused of killing ex-girlfriend, did not commit 1st degree, intentional murder.ALLMAN: "This was an in the moment break. That is rage. This is a lesser degree of homicide."— Carl Hessler Jr. (@MontcoCourtNews) January 14, 2020
Ruth alleged Crawley then got into his vehicle, “gunned” and “floored it,” running over Stith.
“He crushed her ankle, her ribs, her femur, her tibia, her skull,” Ruth alleged, telling jurors Stith’s organs were “minced together” from being run over so many times.
Steele and Ruth alleged Crawley committed first-degree murder, an intentional killing, which carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.
“It was premeditated, willful, deliberate. Nothing was going to stop him,” Ruth argued.
But defense lawyer Carrie L. Allman suggested the incident was more akin to a “rage” or heat of the moment killing and was not intentional.
#MontcoPa jurors were riveted as prosecutors played a 911 call & watched surveillance video that captured the alleged #murder of Angela Maya Stith outside her #Whitemarsh workplace. Testimony begins at #trial for accused killer Lawrence Crawley— Carl Hessler Jr. (@MontcoCourtNews) January 14, 2020
“Outcome does not equal intent. An outcome does not tell us an individual’s intent,” Allman argued during her opening statement to jurors.
Allman said while there is no question Crawley is responsible for Stith’s “terrible death,” she argued the question for the jury is whether it was an intentional killing.
“This is a lesser degree of homicide. This wasn’t planned. This wasn’t deliberate,” Allman argued. “This was an in the moment break. This is someone who has been set off, whose actions are completely out of control.
“That is rage. That is hurt. That is anger. That is losing a sense of yourself. This is a rage filled killing. This is not first-degree murder,” Allman added.
Crawley also is charged with third-degree murder, a killing with malice, which carries a possible maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison.
An autopsy determined Stith died from combined blunt and sharp force injuries.
Prosecutors alleged Crawley fled the scene in his vehicle and was spotted several hours later by state police traveling on the westbound Pennsylvania Turnpike in Somerset County. As troopers approached the vehicle, Crawley used gasoline to set himself on fire inside the vehicle, according to testimony.
“He’d rather do that than answer for his crimes,” Ruth argued, alleging Crawley’s conduct after the attack was a sign of consciousness of guilt.
But Allman maintained Crawley’s final act wasn’t an attempt to evade going to trial.
“It was a moment of panic based on the emotions he was feeling,” Allman argued.
Crawley survived and spent weeks in a western Pennsylvania hospital being treated for severe burns to his face, arms and hands.