AKRON, Ohio (WJW) — The man convicted of murdering 18-year-old Na’Kia Crawford has been sentenced to life in prison.
Adarus Black, 20, was found guilty of Crawford’s murder on Nov. 8.
Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Kelly McLaughlin on Wednesday sentenced Black to life in prison with the eligibility of parole after 15 years for Crawford’s murder. He received an additional consecutive 3-year sentence for the firearm he used to kill her.
It was back in June of 2020 that Crawford was running errands and sitting in her vehicle with her grandmother at a stop light at North Howard and North streets when Black fired multiple rounds into the car.
Crawford was hit several times, including in her neck and torso, and died from her injuries.
Police identified Black, who was 17 at the time of the killing, and another man, Jaion Bivins, as the suspects.
The Northern Ohio Fugitive Task Force caught Black in February. He was living in Atlanta under a fake name and was found with an AR-type rifle, authorities said.
Black was not allowed to plead to a lesser manslaughter charge, and his murder charge went to trial with the family’s support, said Brian LoPrinzi, the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office’s criminal division chief. Akron police then worked “tirelessly” on the case.
“This case is indicative of things happening in our community that need to stop,” he said. “This case isn’t just about Mr. Black. This is about what’s happening in the community. Gun violence has gone up and the ages of the defendants seem to be going down.”
LoPrinzi said local authorities began developing the criminal case after Bivins began cooperating with police, spurred by information authorities received from another member of the public.
“We need community help. … We need people to tell us what they see,” he said. “That is why Mr. Black is getting punished today for what he did.”
Bivins was killed in Kentucky earlier this year, and his death remains unsolved, according to a news release from prosecutors.
One by one, Crawford’s relatives addressed the court, describing Na’Kia as the light of their family — a compassionate and giving sister, daughter and granddaughter who had a bright future ahead of her. The 18-year-old had just graduated high school and was headed to college.
Nicolette said her big sister Na’Kia was a teacher. She often recited random historical facts. She also taught her younger sister how to ride a bicycle at 6 years old.
“She was the best big sister I could ever ask for,” Nicolette told the court on Wednesday. “Just as she loved learning, she loved being able to teach.
“I promise I’ll never let my baby brothers down because she taught me how to be the best big sister.”
Nicolette said she used to sit behind Black in their junior high science class, and remembered he would often talk lovingly about his sisters. She questioned how someone like that could take her sister away.
Crawford’s maternal grandmother, Lynn Williams, who was a passenger in the car during the shooting, was not injured. She addressed the court remotely via phone, called Black an “animal” during the Wednesday sentencing.
“I hope you rot,” she said.
It was during Williams’ statement that the first of several outbursts came from the courtroom audience. Several people were removed by deputies from the courtroom during the hearing.
“Na’Kia was my everything,” said Saria Crawford, Na’Kia’s paternal grandmother.
“[Black] should never be on the streets again because I’m mighty afraid he’ll take somebody else’s life,” she continued. “We’ll never heal. We’re not gonna heal. There is no healing. We just do one day at a time.
“We’re never gonna be the same again.”
Shaquita Crawford, Na’Kia’s stepmother, read a statement from Na’Kia’s father Nicholas Crawford Sr., who called his daughter as “caring, thoughtful and loving to everyone around her.”
“In our society, you are a monster,” she said to Black. “In our society, you deserve the full extent of the law.”
Black declined to make a statement, and no one spoke on his behalf.
Black’s attorneys said the man maintains his innocence and that he intends to appeal his case.