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Witness: Accused killer made threats to Uniontown man

| Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, 10:27 p.m.

The day before Kurtavius “Tay” Jermon Smith shot a Uniontown man to death, Smith sent a text message in which he threatened to kill the man for having an affair with Smith's girlfriend, according to trial testimony.

Smith, 28, is charged by Uniontown police with criminal homicide and carrying a gun without a license in the May 13, 2012, shooting death of Marlin “Zeus” Crawford, 28.

“You're (expletive) Zeus,” Smith wrote in one of several text messages sent the day before the Mother's Day shooting, according to his then-girlfriend, Kimberly Johnson of Uniontown.

“I'm gonna kill him,” Johnson testified, as she read from a transcript of the text messages that police downloaded from her cellphone. “That's my (expletive) word.”

Police found the mortally wounded Crawford lying unresponsive on a sidewalk at 4:46 a.m. in the Pershing Court Manor public housing complex. A forensic pathologist on Wednesday testified Crawford died of a single gunshot wound of the forehead.

Johnson testified she was in an on-again, off-again relationship with Smith when he sent the text messages. She testified she did not know for certain who Smith was threatening, but she assumed the threat was directed at Crawford.

Under cross-examination by defense attorney Charles “Chuck” Hoebler of Pittsburgh, Johnson testified she believed Smith sent the messages because he was mad at her for taking his car without his permission and Smith suspected she allowed Crawford to drive it.

Capt. David Rutter of Uniontown police testified Smith denied any knowledge of the shooting when he was first questioned at the police station that morning. Several hours later, Rutter testified, Smith changed his story as he learned more details about the investigation.

“I told him I knew he knew who Zeus was, and we were going to put it all together,” Rutter testified.

In his second statement, Smith told Rutter that when he saw Crawford in the housing complex on May 13, he confronted him “about talking about me.”

Smith told Rutter another man who was with Crawford punched Smith, and both men fell to the ground.

Smith claimed Crawford began to shoot at him, Rutter testified. Smith grabbed a gun he found on the ground and fired back as he stood up and ran away, according to the statement he gave to Rutter.

“I didn't want him to die,” said Smith in his statement, according to Rutter. “I made a mistake. I will do anything to bring him back.”

Smith told Rutter he threw the gun away in an alley near his apartment on Millview Street.

Rutter said he asked Smith why he disposed of the handgun so close to his home. Smith replied, “Because I knew what I'd done.”

Police searched the area where Smith said he tossed the gun, but they did not find it, Rutter testified.

“We scoured the alley from top to bottom, on foot, but we didn't find a gun,” he told jurors.

Testimony is to resume at 10 a.m. Wednesday before Judge Steve Leskinen.

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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