Not Guilty Pleas in Shooting, Killing of College Student

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    Lackawanna College student Rashan "Duke" Crowder, 22, was gunned down outside a party May 5, 2013.

    Two men have pleaded not guilty to charges that they killed a Pennsylvania college student after a night of partying last spring.

    Ryan Harding, 18, and Marlon Clotter, 22, are charged in Lackawanna County in the May 5 death of 22-year-old Lackawanna College student Rahsan "Duke" Crowder.

    Authorities say the Harrisburg, Pa. resident was pronounced dead a little more than an hour after he was shot near the school's campus in Scranton. At the time, acting police chief Carl Graziano said officers had responded to the area for a report of a shooting and found Crowder with gunshot wounds.

    Graziano said police believe Crowder had attended a party near the crime scene and had been involved in some sort of argument.

    Deputy District Attorney Robert Klein said Wednesday that prosecutors will not seek the death penalty if the defendants are convicted of first-degree murder. They are also charged with third-degree murder.

    The (Scranton) Times-Tribune reports defense attorneys argued that the evidence doesn't support murder charges because there is no indication of premeditation.

    Prosecutors countered that the pistol jammed twice before they allege that Harding shot Crowder in the chest. They allege that Clotter encouraged the shooting and provided the weapon.

    Witnesses said that Crowder was first struck in the leg and was trying to limp away when Harding allegedly fired the deadly shot to the chest.

    After the killing, a university spokeswoman called it “a terrible tragedy.” The spokeswoman, Wendy Evans, said the university was “absolutely heartbroken.”

    The University of Scranton, which is nearby, sent out emergency alerts to its students shortly after the shooting that asked that they stay inside, reported the Citizens Voice. The school later sent out a follow-up message that asked students to avoid the investigation area.

    Two others, Kristopher Adkins, 19, and Devante Graham, 18, both face charges that they helped Harding flee the state.

     


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