WASHINGTON — The man charged with fatally stabbing a woman as she was out for an evening run in a popular D.C. neighborhood in September shoplifted a kitchen knife from a nearby grocery store just minutes before the attack, according to police.
During a preliminary hearing Thursday in D.C. Superior Court, a D.C. police detective laid out some of the evidence against 23-year-old Anthony Crawford, who’s charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Wendy Martinez. The 35-year-old Georgetown University graduate and avid runner, was engaged to be married just a week before she was stabbed to death near Logan Circle in what police have described as a random attack.
Crawford, who is represented by a public defender, has yet to enter a plea. The purpose of the preliminary hearing was to determine whether federal prosecutors had enough evidence to continue with their case against Crawford, but the presenting of evidence took longer than expected and Judge Craig Iscoe delayed his ruling until Friday.
D.C. homicide Det. Charles Fultz testified that surveillance video from the Giant Food at 7th and O Streets in Northwest D.C. shows Crawford in an aisle where “Smart Living” brand knives are sold about 20 minutes before Martinez was attacked a few blocks away.
A bloody knife of the same type and brand sold in the store was found near the scene of the stabbing. The detective said DNA belonging to both Crawford and Martinez was found on the knife’s handle and blade. Investigators also found Crawford’s DNA on a bloodied yellow sweater that a witness had seen him wearing.
Martinez was running near the corner of 11th and P Streets shortly before 8 p.m. on Sept. 18 when Crawford attacked her, police said.
Fultz said more than dozen witnesses saw Crawford in the moments before and after the stabbing.
Surveillance video captured Martinez struggling with her attacker, Fultz said. “You see her attempt to run away, to get away,” Fultz testified.
After she was stabbed, Martinez staggered into a nearby Chinese restaurant where bystanders tried to help her, but she later died from her injuries at the hospital. She had been stabbed a total of seven times, including in her head and neck, according to an autopsy report.
Police said they also believe Crawford cut his hand during the stabbing. Investigators said they found a trail of his blood on the sidewalk leading away from the scene of the stabbing. When Crawford was taken in for questioning the next day, police said he had bandages on his right hand.
Crawford was identified as a suspect after police released home surveillance video that captured him near the scene of the stabbing wearing the distinctive yellow sweater.
When he was first questioned by police, Crawford told police he was at the library at the time of the stabbing.
A close family member told police Crawford had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder but had not been taking his medication. During his hours-long interview with police, he referred to himself as the president and talked to himself.
Another witness previously told police Crawford was “an avid user” of the synthetic narcotic K-2 and that he was “probably high” at the time of the stabbing, according to court documents.
Martinez’s killing rattled the Logan Circle and Shaw neighborhoods as well as the city’s running community. D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham called the killing “unsettling.”
(WTOP’s Megan Cloherty contributed to this report).