Suspect in Joliet double murder testifies he’s ‘never’ touched a gun
BY JANET LUNDQUIST firstname.lastname@example.org September 26, 2013 6:10PM
Sjolante Q. Crowder / photo provided
Updated: October 28, 2013 7:40AM
A 19-year-old Joliet man charged with two murders took the stand Thursday at his trial, leaned forward in his chair and calmly denied shooting the Joliet teens in October.
Sjolante Crowder is accused of killing Adrian Knox, 17, and DeLasse Lanier, 18, on Oct. 23 and wounding another man in an evening ambush on Second Avenue.
Crowder, who wore a gray button-down shirt and a tie, leaned forward in the witness chair. He was called as a witness by his attorney after prosecutors rested their case against him.
Crowder’s attorney, Robert Lewin, asked him one question after calling him as his final witness.
“Did you shoot (Knox, Lanier and the wounded victim)?” Lewin asked.
“No, sir,” Crowder answered.
About 6:45 p.m. Oct. 23, several people, including Anthony Stallings, who said he is Lanier’s brother, were gathered around a Jeep Cherokee parked in the 700 block of Second Avenue when they saw a vehicle drive slowly by them, according to court records.
They indicated that soon after the vehicle passed, a man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt walked up and started shooting.
As the group scattered, Knox collapsed in a driveway on the other side of the street, and Lanier ran inside a house on the block and collapsed, police said.
Lanier and Knox were taken to Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, where Lanier was pronounced dead in the emergency room at 7:27 p.m. and Knox was pronounced dead 20 minutes later.
The 19-year-old man who was shot drove himself to Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Police arrested Crowder the day after the shooting in the 200 block of Richards Street. He is being held in the Will County jail in lieu of $7 million bail.
Assistant State’s Attorney Tom Slazyk on Thursday had more questions for Crowder and went through Crowder’s videotaped interview with detectives, asking Crowder to verify certain statements.
Slazyk asked about conflicting times Crowder gave for a trip to Walmart on the day of the shooting. Crowder told detectives last fall he went to the store about the time of the shooting, but on the stand estimated the trip occurred about 11 a.m.
“Sir, I was not looking at the clock every time I stepped out,” Crowder said.
When asked why he ducked into his mother’s house and locked the door behind him when he saw a Joliet detective walking toward the house the day after the shooting, Crowder said he believed police were coming to arrest him on a juvenile warrant.
“I didn’t know that I was a suspect (in the shooting), sir,” Crowder said.
“Have you ever touched a gun?” Slazyk asked.
“I’ve never touched a gun, sir,” Crowder said.
“Never at all?” Slazyk asked.
“Never at all,” Crowder said.
The defense rested its case after Crowder’s testimony. The jury was expected to begin deliberations Friday.