ShareThis Page

Defendant in Uniontown slaying feared haunting, witness testifies

| Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, 10:43 a.m.

A Fayette County man on trial for homicide had trouble sleeping in jail because he feared the victim would haunt him, according to a Connellsville man who was incarcerated with him.

“He can't sleep because he was afraid of being haunted by his ghost,” testified Gerald Secrest, 50, during Kurtavius “Tay” Jermon Smith's homicide trial on Wednesday.

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.

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

Secrest said Smith expressed his fears during a conversation the two had in the Fayette County jail in June 2013. Secrest said he was in jail on a charge of receiving stolen property.

Secrest testified that on another occasion in the jail, he overheard Smith asking another inmate to provide him with an alibi.

Another witness, Diana Long of Uniontown, testified Smith sent her a letter from jail in which he asked her to memorize a statement for police.

“I need you to write this down and remember it,” Long testified, reading from the letter. “I came to your house at 2 a.m. You let me in and went back to sleep.”

Long testified Smith directed her to tell police she was awakened at 4 a.m. by a television. She was to tell police she went downstairs to turn it off, at which time she found him asleep.

Detective Donald Gmitter, the prosecuting officer, testified that during a Jan. 3 interview with Smith in the district attorney's office, Smith acknowledged having shot Crawford. Gmitter testified Smith told him the shooting occurred after he confronted Crawford for having implicated him in a home invasion.

Smith told the officer he fell to the ground when he was punched by another person who was with him. He grabbed a handgun that fell from the other man's waistband and fired backwards as he ran away, Gmitter testified.

“While he was running, he heard shooting and he heard a bullet hit the guardrail,” Gmitter testified.

Others who testified during the third day of the trial before Judge Steve Leskinen included a state police ballistics expert, Cpl. David J. Burlingame. Burlingame testified a bullet that was removed from Crawford's head was fired by a 9 mm handgun that prosecutors introduced into evidence on Tuesday.

No fingerprints were found on the handgun, according to another state police officer who tested it for latent prints, Randy Mocello.

Testimony is to resume Thursday.

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

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.