On September 30, 2016, 18 year old, Donte Crawford, was found not guilty by reason of self defense in the death of another student, Ananias Jolley. Crawford stabbed Jolley in a confrontation at school. The fight occurred on 24 November, 2015 at the Renaissance Academy in Baltimore. Jolley died a month later.
Donte Crawford had managed to smuggle a pocket knife into the school, in violation of school rules. Charges included “Possession of a deadly weapon with intent to commit injury.” From wbaltv.com:
Donte Crawford, 18, was charged as an adult with first- and second-degree murder and carrying a dangerous weapon in connection with the stabbing of a classmate at Renaissance Academy on Nov. 24. Ananias Jolley, 17, died at Shock Trauma almost a month after the stabbing.
Witnesses said a fight that led to a stabbing in a biology lab started quickly and ended in seconds.
Crawford took the stand in his own defense, trying to explain to jurors what happened. In closing arguments, prosecutor Bethany Durand claimed Crawford brought a pocket knife to school on a mission to harm another student.
From the testimony at trial, it appears that Crawford initiated the confrontation. He knocked Jolly down, and managed to get on top of him, stabbing him at least twice to the chest. Jolley's heart suffered at least two cuts. From the baltimoresun.com:
An autopsy showed Jolley was stabbed once in the left chest and that the left ventricle of his heart was cut, Durand said. He was then stabbed another time in the heart. He also had cuts on his right arm and hand.
Crawford was new to the school and had no support group, making him an easy target for bullying. Witnesses said he had been bullied and beat upon for months.
The school is only 1 mile from where Fredy Grey was arrested for possession of a common pocket knife.
Little has been said about the knife. It has been described as a “pocket knife” and a “pen knife”. I have not been able to find any pictures of the knife.
In the Old West, juries had a liberal view of self defense. If two young men had been in altercations, had called each other names and made threats, if they got into a deadly fight, the death was usually ruled as self defense, no matter who initiated the immediate confrontation. This case indicates that juries may be returning to that point of view.
The bad neighborhoods of Baltimore and the Old West have something in common: the rule of law is unreliable. In the Old West the law was often distant and unavailable. In Baltimore, it is the Ferguson effect, where police are unwilling to risk life, job, and pension with a political system that demonizes them. In the Old West and in the bad neighborhoods of Baltimore, people depend on their wits and weapons to survive.
Maybe the Jury recognized that.
You cannot survive the trial if you do not survive the fight.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.