By Joe Johnson
A trial began this week in U.S. District Court in Athens for the former University of Georgia football player accused of federal crimes in connection with the death of a clerk at an Oconee County RaceTrac in 2021.
Akhil Nasir Crumpton faces charges of Interference with commerce by attempted robbery and discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
Charges of murder with a firearm during a crime of violence and making a false statement during the purchase of a firearm were dismissed as the result of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that eliminated robbery as a violent federal offense in which the federal murder charge had been predicated.
However, Crumpton still faces a possible state trial on charges he murdered the RaceTrac clerk, 23-year-old Elijah Wood.
An Oconee County grand jury indicted him on charges of felony murder, aggravated assault, criminal attempt to commit a felony and two counts of possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony.
Oconee Sheriff James Hale said the federal case needed to be adjudicated before Crumpton sees the inside of a local courtroom.
The federal indictment alleges that Crumpton brandished a Glock 9mm pistol during an attempted robbery at the RaceTrac gas station on Macon Highway in Watkinsville before fatally shooting Wood.
Crumpton subsequently fled to his hometown of Philadelphia, Pa, where authorities said he was arrested while in possession of a gun he bought illegally in Athens by using a straw man to make the purchase at Franklin's Gun Shop.
James Armstrong, 34, of Commerce, was also charged with making a false statement during the purchase of the pistol.
During the investigation, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives notified the Oconee County Sheriff's Office that a gun used in a murder in Philadelphia matched the gun used in Wood’s death.
Investigators were able to connect that to Crumpton, who played football at UGA in 2017 and 2018 and studied at the university until 2021.