Jurors found Shanterrica Madden guilty of murder Monday in the stabbing death of Lady Raider basketball player Tina Stewart, bringing more than a year of legal proceedings to a close.
Madden showed no emotion as Circuit Court Judge Don R. Ash announced she had been convicted of second-degree murder and tampering with evidence – less than two hours after jury deliberations began, following five days of testimony.
Ash revoked Madden’s bond, and she will remain in custody until Monday, July 16, when she is sentenced. Madden faces between 15 and 25 years in prison, as well a three- to six-year sentence for tampering with evidence.
Prosecutors had sought a first-degree murder conviction, which would have resulted in Madden serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“We feel like the jury had the opportunity to consider all the evidence, and we respect their verdict,” District Attorney Bill Whitesell said outside of the Rutherford County Judicial Building.
Whitesell said the fact that Madden shut the door and turned off the lights, as Stewart bled to death, was perhaps the most compelling argument in the case. But he acknowledged the prosecution could never prove where the knife was located before the stabbing.
“We could not put the knife coming in the room,” he said, “and we knew that would be a weakness of the case.”
Stewart’s parents initially declined to comment Monday on the verdict.
On Tuesday, however, the Stewart family said they felt justice was served, even though Madden was not convicted of first-degree murder.
“It was like a peace that came over my heart to know that she will finally be off the streets for that horrific thing she did to my child,” said Stewart’s mother, Ida Stewart Jackson, as she spoke with Larry Flowers from WSMV-Channel 4 News.
Stewart’s father, Adrian Jackson, said if he could sit face-to-face with Madden, he would not ask for an explanation or answers.
“I would not ask for anything,” he said. “I would tell her I forgave her that second day – not for her soul, but for mine.”
Madden is the former Middle Tennessee State University student who admitted to killing Stewart during a March 2, 2011, altercation over drug allegations inside their shared off-campus apartment at Raider’s Crossing in Murfreesboro.
The altercation erupted after Madden learned Stewart told apartment management and Murfreesboro Police Officer Timothy Jensen, who worked security for the complex, about her continued use of marijuana in the apartment.
The murder, which occurred a few days before spring break, thrust the university into mourning. Although it has been more than a year since Stewart’s death, administrators said Madden’s conviction would help the Blue Raider community continue to heal.
“I want to thank the district attorney, the police and the court for all the work they have done during this tragic event,” Lady Raider head coach Rick Insell said. “We hope it brings some type of closure for the Stewart family and our basketball team.”
Regardless of the conviction, this remains a lose-lose situation, Associate Athletic Director Diane Turnham said.
“Tina and her family are part of our family, and they will always be part of our family. Our lives are forever changed. We will never forget Tina. … We lost someone we love, and (the Maddens) are also dealing with a loss,” she said, noting Madden was a student as well.
Madden’s father, Frank Madden, said he dreaded having to tell his other children that their sister would not be coming home.
“No matter what, we put it all in God’s hands,” he said, referring to the trial. “God had this plan for her.”
Jurors listen to closing arguments
During closing arguments Monday morning, Whitesell told the Hamilton County jurors he recognized there was no good outcome for either family involved in the situation but urged jurors to set aside those feeling for justice.
“I know it is hard to imagine someone so young could have killed another person,” Whitesell said, as he finished the prosecution’s closing arguments. “But, this did happen. I urge you to make the tough decision to do the right thing.”
Throughout the trial, defense attorney Joe Brandon Jr. argued Madden acted in self-defense, despite the prosecution’s insistence her behavior immediately after the stabbing pointed to premeditated murder.
“It was a sad and tragic day,” Brandon said Monday in closing arguments. “Stewart was a beautiful girl, and her mother and father lost her, and that is absolutely sad. … This day can be characterized as an unfortunate series of events that resulted in an unforeseen outcome.”
Assistant District Attorney Paul Newman contended Stewart’s death was not an accident.
“Stewart was stabbed multiple times,” he said. “Madden intentionally stabbed Stewart to death. She intentionally allowed Stewart to bleed to death.”
Newman said Madden’s testimony was not credible, noting she changed her story multiple times during a videotaped interview with detectives at the Murfreesboro Police Department.
“She tells falsehoods,” he said. “Do not let her fool you. I submit she does not want you to know the whole truth.”
Brandon acknowledged Madden’s actions 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 in opening arguments. He added Madden still had blood on her clothing when she was being interviewed by detectives at the Police Department.
Madden takes the stand
The last day of testimony began Saturday with Madden defending herself against allegations she planned to kill Stewart, following three days of witnesses and experts presented on behalf of the prosecution.
“I am sorry,” Madden told the Stewart family, moments after taking the stand. “I am sorry I hurt her. I am sorry I did not help her. If I could do it all over again, I would help her. … I cannot change what happened. If I could change it, I would.”
Madden confirmed she fought with Stewart after being questioned by Jensen, who searched the apartment upon receiving the complaint.
“It just happened so fast,” she said, crying.
But, she insisted Stewart started the fight and refused to allow her to walk away. When Stewart began to hit her in the head, Madden said she pleaded with her to stop.
“I just wanted it to stop,” she said. “I picked up the knife to defend myself. … I was just so scared. I got the knife off the bed. After I stabbed her, Tina went backwards then hit the ground face down. She was standing over me when she was stabbed.”
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,” she replied.
Madden testified one day after jurors were shown portions of a videotaped interview of Madden initially denying any involvement in Stewart’s death.
“I did not kill Tina,” Madden said, as she spoke with Detective Sgt. Mike Taylor at the Police Department on the night Stewart died.
Madden watched Friday, as prosecutors rested their case with the videotape excerpts, one of which featured Taylor asking her to imagine what it would be like to have a jury decide whether she committed first-degree murder, noting that her demeanor was troubling.
“She was very calm,” Taylor said Friday in reference to the interview. “She seemed to take a lot of thought into her answers.”
Eventually, Madden confessed but said she stabbed Stewart only once in self-defense.
Experts explain forensic evidence
However, Dr. Amy McMaster, who serves as the state’s chief medical examiner for the Middle Tennessee region, testified Wednesday that Stewart suffered stab wounds to the chest, head and shoulder, as well as abrasions on the back of her left arm.
“I determined the cause of death to be the stab wound to the chest,” McMaster said, adding Stewart could have possibly been stabbed from behind.
She said the injuries were consistent with a sharp object striking in a downward motion, which penetrated 2 inches from the right side of Stewart’s chest, just below the collarbone, puncturing the right lung and aorta in the heart.
“A person who receives these type of injuries would not be immediately incapacitated, but it would be difficult to breathe and there would be a significant amount of blood loss,” McMaster said. “If medical help is not given soon after being injured, death will ensue – the person will die.”
Crime scene investigation expert Jerry Findley, who specializes in blood spatter analysis, testified Friday that the incident would have occurred close to the wall when the argument began.
“The position of the trashcan indicates it was knocked over during a struggle, based on where bloodstains were located on the carpet,” Findley said, as he pointed to one of the photographs taken of Stewart’s bedroom.
Based on the blood spatter evidence, he said Stewart would have been in an upright position when she was stabbed. He said the stabbing “had to have occurred in the area of her desk next to the trashcan – not near her bedroom door or next to the bed, as Madden has stated.”
Findley agreed with McMaster’s assessment that abrasions on Stewart’s left arm were likely caused by a serrated knife, noting the injuries are consistent with a struggle.
“Stewart laid on the floor, bleeding to death,” he said, in reference to a large pool of blood on the carpet.
Prosecutors alleged if Madden did act in self-defense, she would have called police for help and would not have left Stewart alone to die after being stabbed in her bedroom.
“Madden did many things after the stabbing, but none were designed to help Stewart live,” Newman said Wednesday during opening arguments.
Newman said once officers secured the crime scene, Madden agreed to a search of the apartment. As detectives were combing through the residence, she allegedly admitted to throwing away the knife used to stab Stewart in a nearby dumpster.
Officer Ed Gorham told jurors Thursday police found a broken knife wrapped in a Tinker Bell blanket, which Stewart owned, as well as a Blue Raider jacket stained with blood.
Results from a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation analysis concluded Stewart’s blood and DNA were on the items recovered from the dumpster. However, neither of the women’s fingerprints was found on those pieces of evidence.
Attorneys offer different perspectives
Prosecutors spent much of the trial highlighting the women’s differences, in an effort to establish how animosity eventually boiled over into violence.
Although both women attended Central High School in Memphis before becoming the first in their families to attend college, they did not know each other until being assigned to Apartment 321 at Raider’s Crossing shortly before the beginning of the 2010 fall semester.
Prosecutors characterized Stewart, whose education was funded through an athletic scholarship, as a hard-working, outgoing student devoted to her family, friends and longtime boyfriend, K.C. Anuna, who at the time was a member of the Blue Raider basketball team.
Anuna testified Friday he was deeply in love with Stewart, adding they were already making plans for their future.
“I was going to propose to her in May 2011,” he said. “I was planning to marry her.”
Defense attorneys described Madden, who was attending the university on an academic scholarship, as a shy bookworm, unprepared for the drastic culture shock of living nearly four hours away from home.
“Shanterrica was a very good student but not outspoken,” said Karen Ford, an English professor in the College of Liberal Arts, who testified Saturday on behalf of the defense. “She was focused. She did everything that was asked of her, and she would come to me with questions – always sat in the front row.”
By the 2011 spring semester, the women’s relationship began to sour when Anuna started spending the night at the apartment, which made Madden feel increasingly uncomfortable, according to the defense.
“At one time, Madden called her (mother) and said, ‘I just got out of the shower and a man is here. What do I do?’” Brandon said, as he referred to an incident in which Anuna unexpectedly entered the apartment just as Madden was about to walk across the hall from her bathroom.
During the last week of February, Madden withdrew from the university out of frustration for the situation. She decided to stay home once spring break ended and planned to enroll in a university closer to home, according to the defense.
In contrast, Newman portrayed Madden as a troublemaker who felt neglected because Stewart’s jam-packed schedule prevented the two from spending time together.
Despite her scholarly success, Madden admitted Saturday she started to occasionally smoke marijuana with a few friends she met through class – an activity that her mother said would have strongly been condemned.
“My daughter never smoked marijuana when she was at home with us,” Shantel Madden testified Saturday. “If we had known Shanterrica was smoking marijuana, she would have been brought home.”
According to the prosecution, Stewart told several people she was concerned about living with someone who smoked marijuana due to the university’s zero-tolerance drug policy.
Several witnesses testified Wednesday coaches had warned Stewart, as well as her teammates, being around second-hand smoke might cause her to fail a random drug test, which could result in revocation of her athletic scholarship.
Prosecutors theorized it was this on-going hostility that led to the stabbing.
Witnesses testify about night Stewart killed
Renee Reese testified Friday she smoked marijuana with Madden inside the apartment just before Jensen arrived.
“She was upset,” Reese said, referring to Madden. “She went straight to knock on Tina’s door. She knocked like she was upset. Tina came to the door, and they started arguing. I was still in Shanterrica’s room sitting on the bed. I heard someone say, ‘Don’t push me.’”
The altercation culminated with Madden grabbing a serrated knife from the kitchen and stabbing Stewart, only to then leave the 21-year-old junior guard lying on her bedroom floor bleeding to death, Newman said.
Reese testified she heard someone yell, “She (has) a knife. Call 9-1-1. Stop, my heart hurts. Stop.”
Although Reese said she now believes it was Stewart who screamed for help, at the time, she told detectives she was unsure of who yelled.
Charnera “Scooter” Macklin, who was on the phone with Stewart when the fight began, acknowledged Thursday she never heard any mention of a knife before the call was disconnected.
“I just heard Tina fighting and then the phone went dead,” she said.
A few moments after the altercation ended, Reese said she saw Madden shove a bloody blanket into a large plastic bag, at which point a broken knife fell to the floor in the hallway.
“I was in the living room, and Shanterrica was standing in the hallway,” she recalled. “She went to hand me the bag, and I said, ‘I’m not touching it,’ and then I left the apartment.”
According to dispatch records, Reese did not call 9-1-1 until 35 minutes later – only a few minutes before Anuna called police when he discovered Stewart lying in a pool of blood on the floor.
“I was scared,” Reese explained.
Anuna said that on the day Stewart died, the two had dinner plans and when several of his calls were unanswered he decided to check on her.
“Someone pressed ignore (on her cell phone) twice,” he said, adding he became even more concerned on the way to Stewart’s apartment. “Then, the third time I called, the phone just rang.”
Anuna said he saw Stewart’s car in the parking lot when he arrived and a glare from the television in her bedroom, which was not lit. He said the front door was open, and when he walked inside, Madden kept insisting Stewart was not in her bedroom.
When he turned on Stewart’s bedroom light, Anuna said he soon realized she was critically injured on the floor.
“I grabbed her and saw all the blood,” Anuna said. “She was lying on her stomach. I started screaming. I still had Tina in my arms. I laid her down softly and chased after Madden.”
Anuna’s testimony came two days after jurors listened to him plead for help.
“My girl is bleeding to death,” Anuna told emergency dispatch personnel. “Hurry, please. Someone cut her. Tina, please. Keep moving babe. Please keep your head up. Please, baby. Oh, Lord!”
Officer Jonathan Brown testified Wednesday when he arrived on the scene, he first saw Anuna, who was “hysterical,” yelling that Madden stabbed Stewart.
While Brown searched for Madden, he said Anuna ran back upstairs to check on Stewart.
Detective Kristy Inglish, who was a patrol officer at the time, testified Wednesday when she ran inside the apartment she saw Anuna cradling Stewart in his arms.
“There was quite a bit of blood,” Inglish said, adding it was obvious Stewart had suffered a very serious chest wound.
Prosecutors said because it would have been so apparent that Stewart needed immediate medical attention, Madden has no excuse as to why she did not call 9-1-1.
“It was more important for Madden to finish her laundry than to get Stewart help,” Newman said.