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Uniontown woman describes moments before boyfriend's death

| Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Minutes before he was fatally shot on Mother's Day in 2012, Marlin “Zeus” Crawford called his girlfriend to tell her he was on his way to her house, the woman testified on Monday.

Crawford, 28, never arrived, said a tearful Whitney Robinson of Uniontown during the homicide trial of Kurtavius “Tay” Jermon Smith, 28.

“I heard six or seven gunshots,” Robinson, 22, told a jury in Fayette County, describing how the shots rang out at 4:20 a.m., just minutes after Crawford told her to unlock her door for him.

The next time she saw Crawford, Robinson testified, he was lying motionless on a sidewalk near her Butler Street home, across from the Pershing Court Manor public housing complex in Uniontown.

Smith is charged by city police with criminal homicide and firearms not to be carried without a license. J.W. Eddy, assistant district attorney, said Smith shot Crawford as Crawford was walking from Pershing Court to Robinson's house to deliver a rose and a Mother's Day card.

“The evidence shows this was a premeditated and a vicious act of violence that took Mr. Crawford's life,” Eddy said.

Crawford died of a gunshot wound to the head, according to an autopsy.

Smith's attorney, Charles “Chuck” Hoebler of Pittsburgh, said prosecutors have no evidence of premeditation. He said although police contend Smith made incriminating statements, the statements are not an admission of guilt.

“They place him at the scene,” Hoebler said of the statements. “They place him in an altercation, but there is no admission he shot Mr. Crawford.”

Robinson testified that in the hours leading up to Crawford's death, he sent her several text messages. In one, she said, he wished her a happy Mother's Day. In a second message, he asked her to bring him food to the Splash Bar.

Robinson said after she took food to the bar, she went home and went to sleep. She next heard from Crawford when he called her a little after 4 a.m. to tell her to unlock her door because he was on his way over, she testified.

“Did Mr. Crawford ever arrive?” Eddy said.

“No,” Robinson testified.

Jamie Holland, a Uniontown police officer, testified he arrived at the scene at 4:46 a.m. to find Crawford lying on his back on a sidewalk with a gunshot wound to his head. Holland said he found two cards near Crawford and a rose.

Another officer found a loaded .357 revolver in Crawford's front sweatshirt pocket, Holland testified.

Patrolman Matthew Painter testified he found a loaded 9 mm semiautomatic handgun under Crawford's right hip.

A white Jeep that is shown on a patrol car's dash cam leaving Pershing Court with its headlights off minutes after the shooting was found parked in an unnamed alley near Logan Street, testified Jason Cox, police chief.

An occupant of one of the apartments told police two people had recently parked the Jeep at the location, Cox testified. Cox said he and other officers surrounded 20 Millview Street, which is just south of the alley, and ordered the occupants of the third-floor unit to come out.

After several minutes, Smith and three others exited the building, Cox said. All were taken to the police station for questioning.

Testimony is to resume 9:30 a.m. Tuesday before Judge Steve Leskinen.

Crawford was the son of Henry Clay Crawford, a North Union man who is facing the death penalty in the Jan. 28, 2013, stabbing of Lisa Faye Tupta, 49.

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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