Defendant Shanterrica Madden walks ahead of her attorney Joe Brandon as they head back to the courtroom after a lunch break in Madden's first-degree murder trial in Murfreesboro, Tenn., Friday, may 11, 2012. Photo by John Gillis
The 19-year-old Memphis woman on trial for first-degree murder testified Saturday she never intended to kill Lady Raider basketball player Tina Stewart during an altercation last year at Raider’s Crossing in Murfreesboro.
“It just happened so fast,” said Shanterrica Madden, who is the former Middle Tennessee State University student accused of killing Stewart on March 2, 2011, in retaliation over drug allegations inside their shared off-campus apartment.
Madden took to the stand before Judge Don R. Ash in Rutherford County Circuit Court to defend herself against allegations she planned to kill Stewart, following three days of testimony by several witnesses and experts who testified on behalf of the prosecution.
“I am sorry,” Madden said, as she cried. “I cannot change what happened. If I could change it, I would. I should have (taken) my own life.”
Closing arguments in the trial are scheduled to begin Monday, May 14, at 9 a.m. in the Rutherford County Judicial Building in downtown Murfreesboro, which will be followed by jury instructions and deliberations.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Madden faces a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Jurors could, however, decide to convict Madden of second-degree murder with the possibility of parole, a lesser charge that carries a minimum of 15 years in prison.
She has also been charged with tampering with evidence, which could result in a three- to six-year sentence.
Throughout the trial, defense attorney Joe Brandon Jr. has maintained Madden acted in self-defense, despite the prosecution’s insistence that her behavior immediately after the stabbing points to premeditated murder.
“Madden did many things after the stabbing, but none were designed to help Stewart live,” Assistant District Attorney Paul Newman said Wednesday during opening arguments.
Prosecutors have argued by not calling police, taking Stewart’s cell phone, disposing of the evidence, and lying to the 21-year-old junior guard’s boyfriend, K.C. Anuna, Madden wanted her to die.
“You took her cellphone – the only lifeline she had,” District Attorney Bill Whitesell said during cross-examination. “You turned the lights off and shut the door. You let her bleed to death.”
When Whitesell pressed Madden to offer the court an explanation as to why she did not call 9-1-1 after the incident, she said, “I wish I did,” before breaking down into tears.
“This is not what I wanted to happen,” Madden replied.
Brandon has countered Madden’s decision to not call for help after the stabbing could be construed as odd but only because she had never been in an altercation before and was in shock.
“There is some bizarre behavior, but if my client was trying to cover up a crime, she did a bad job,” Brandon said Wednesday, adding Madden still had blood on her clothing when she was being interviewed by detectives at the Murfreesboro Police Department.
Madden confirmed an argument erupted after she learned Stewart told Raider’s Crossing management and Murfreesboro Police Officer Timothy Jensen, who worked security for the complex, about her continued use of marijuana in the apartment.
But she insisted Stewart started the fight over the drug allegations and refused to allow her to walk away, which put the 18-year-old freshman in fear for her safety. When Stewart began to hit her in the head, Madden said she pleaded with her to stop.
“I am the one who yelled, ‘Stop. Stop,’” Madden said, referring to statements made by Renee Reese, who was inside the apartment when the altercation erupted.
Reese testified Friday she heard someone yell, “She (has) a knife. Call 9-1-1. Stop, my heart hurts. Stop,” as she sat alone in Madden’s bedroom while the fight ensued.
Madden said she yelled for Stewart to stop because it felt like her heart was going to pop out of her chest, and she picked up the knife in self-defense, adding she was worried the fight would result in her being seriously injured.
“I was just so scared,” she said. “I got the knife off the bed. After I stabbed her, Tina went backward and then hit the ground face down. She was standing over me when she was stabbed.”