In the stillness of a packed Lafayette Hill courtroom Tuesday, Angela Maya Stith's relatives looked up at a projection screen and watched in horror as a surveillance video replayed the last terrifying moments of her life.
They watched as Stith was chased, stabbed, and left lifeless on the pavement. Then her body was run over repeatedly by an SUV in the parking lot of her Plymouth Meeting workplace.
At the prosecution table, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele held his head in his hands. On the other side of the room, shackled and wearing a red prison jumpsuit, Lawrence Maurice Crawley, Stith's ex-boyfriend, sat, apparently emotionless.
In a recording of a 911 call made by a coworker, a woman screamed: "Oh, my God, he just ran her over. … She's mangled. … He keeps coming back."
Tensions were high and emotions raw at Crawley's preliminary hearing on first-degree murder and other charges.
Crawley, 33, of Philadelphia, is accused of attacking Stith outside her workplace, Vector Security, in what authorities have said was the first homicide in 17 years in Whitemarsh Township.
On a break from her overnight shift around 2:15 a.m. Aug. 3, Stith walked out a rear door of the office on the 5100 block of Campus Drive, which is in an office park off Butler Pike and near the Pennsylvania Turnpike. For about 10 minutes, the video shows her sitting in the driver's seat of her red Toyota Solara, her face occasionally illuminated by the glow of a cell phone.
Suddenly, she scrambles out the passenger side of her car as a man in a dark hoodie chases her. She did not make it far, the video shows, before he overtook her, stabbing her in the back in the middle of the parking lot. The knife blade flashes in the darkness. When later found in her back, the knife was broken, Steele said.
Hands flailing, two coworkers ran outside. They stood over Stith as the attacker, whom authorities identified as Crawley, ran off.
In the chaos, someone dialed 911. A recording of the call was played in court.
"I believe she's been stabbed," said a frantic coworker, who was not identified. "She just said she has a knife in her back … She said she knows the person."
Then, the woman on the phone let out a scream. As coworkers watched, her attacker returned to the lot — this time in his Chevrolet Avalanche. Driving fast, he ran over Stith's body once, circled the parking lot, and then crushed her two more times.
Stith, 33, died of blunt- and sharp-force trauma.
After the attack, prosecutors say, Crawley sped off, heading west on the turnpike until a state trooper spotted him in Somerset County, about 80 miles east of Pittsburgh. Before an arrest could be made, fire erupted inside Crawley's SUV, burning him badly and sending him to the hospital in critical condition. Whether the fire was intentional or the result of an accident was unclear.
In court Tuesday, Crawley's face was covered in dark burns.
He had been violent in the past, according to court records, and was once charged with choking Stith. Two weeks before the alleged murder, Crawley pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of simple assault in that case.
At the time of the fatal attack, Stith did not have a restraining order against Crawley in Montgomery County. However, three years ago, a Florida woman, who co-owned the SUV with Crawley, was granted a permanent restraining order against him, authorities said.
Hours before the killing, Crawley attempted to buy a firearm at Delia's Gun Shop in Philadelphia, Montgomery County Detective William Mitchell said Tuesday in court. When Crawley was asked on his gun application whether there were any active restraining orders against him, he failed to disclose the permanent restraining order. As a result, Crawley's application was denied, Mitchell said.
Crawley's gun application led prosecutors to tack on two charges related to lying while trying to purchase a gun.
Crawley's public defender, Carrie Allman, argued unsuccessfully that the gun charges should not be added. District Judge Deborah J. Lukens ordered all charges held over for trial.
Crawley did not respond to questions as officers escorted him to an unmarked police car. He is being held without bail at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility.
Outside the courtroom, Stith's family declined to comment.
Steele said he had not decided whether he might seek the death penalty.