By Joe Johnson
A federal jury in Athens Wednesday afternoon convicted 26-year-old Ahkil Nasir Crumpton on all charges in connection with the death of a clerk at an Oconee County RaceTrac in 2021.
Following a three-day trial in U.S. District Court, jurors found the former University of Georgia football player guilty of one count each of interference with commerce by attempted robbery and making false statement during the purchase of a firearm.
Crumpton faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for attempted robbery and a maximum of ten years in prison for the firearm charge. The sentencing date will be determined by the Court. The defendant is not eligible for parole.
"No matter today's outcome, there is no returning Elijah Wood to his family and friends, who have had to endure both the pain of his loss and many unanswered questions," said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary, whose office prosecuted the case.. "Pursuing justice in this case was challenging and lengthy, but ultimately the dedicated collaboration of investigators and prosecutors prevailed. I hope that today's verdict offers some measure of justice for Elijah Wood's family."
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 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.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Crumpton was alone when he entered the RaceTrac gas station and convenience store on Macon Highway in Watkinsville, Georgia, on March 19, 2021, where Elijah Wood was working as the store clerk, filling in for a sick coworker. Crumpton's face was covered, and he was wearing dark clothing and football gloves. There was another customer in the store; Crumpton is seen on surveillance video exiting and then returning at 1:15 a.m. Upon his return, Crumpton approached Wood, who was standing behind the counter at the cash register. Crumpton pointed a Glock 19 pistol with a weapon mounted light at Wood, firing one round at close range towards Wood, striking him in the chest. Wood's girlfriend testified at trial that she was on a FaceTime call with Wood at the time. Crumpton ran out of the store without taking any money or merchandise. Wood died at the scene. The Oconee County Sheriff's Office (OCSO) located one 9mm shell casing from the counter between two of the cash registers.
Four months later, on July 17, 2021, Crumpton was seen exiting the South Street Diner at 140 South Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at 3:18 a.m. to retrieve a Glock 43 pistol from a vehicle and was approached by Anthony Jones. Surveillance video from a nearby business captured the encounter between Jones and Crumpton. Jones brandished a silver handgun and pointed it at Crumpton, then appeared to grab the car keys out of Crumpton's left hand. Jones forcefully removed the Glock 43 pistol from Crumpton's right pocket while simultaneously holding him at gunpoint. When Jones turned around following the robbery and began to run away, Crumpton pulled a Glock 19 pistol from his waistband and fired 13 gunshots that ultimately struck and killed Jones. The spent 9mm shell casings ejected from Crumpton's handgun were collected by law enforcement and later submitted to ATF's National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) for comparison testing. The analysis confirmed that the firearm used in the RaceTrac murder in Oconee County, Georgia, was the same firearm used in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, shooting.
On the morning of March 16, 2022, FBI and ATF agents arrested Crumpton in Philadelphia on a murder warrant issued out of the Superior Court of Oconee County, Georgia. Crumpton jumped out of his bedroom window to escape arrest, but he was taken into custody by FBI SWAT following a chase. Inside Crumpton's bedroom, agents located the Glock 19 pistol that was confirmed in ballistics testing to be the one used in the shooting deaths of Elijah Wood in Oconee County and Anthony Jones in Philadelphia. The gun was found inside Crumpton's official 2018 Rose Bowl Game backpack given to the players who competed in the football game. In addition, agents found items of clothing worn by Crumpton in both shooting deaths and a loaded AR-15 rifle.
Crumpton was a former member of the University of Georgia (UGA) football team, where he played wide receiver during the 2017 and 2018 season and attended UGA as a student from the fall of 2017 to the spring of 2021, although he did not graduate. At the time of Elijah Wood's murder, Crumpton resided at an apartment in Watkinsville, Georgia, less than two miles from the RaceTrac, with his close friend and UGA football teammate, Juwan Taylor, who is currently a player development assistant for the team. Taylor testified at trial that Crumpton came to their apartment after the shooting holding the pistol and was visibly upset saying, "I didn't mean to do it - I just wanted the money, I just shot him at the store, at the store." Crumpton explained further that when he lifted the gun up, it "just went off." Taylor said he was frightened for his own safety and did not tell anyone. In July 2021, Crumpton returned to live in his hometown of Philadelphia.
Co-defendant James North Armstrong, 35, of Commerce, Georgia, testified that Crumpton was a client of his at his tattoo studio. Armstrong testified that Crumpton asked him to purchase a gun for him. Armstrong admitted that he illegally purchased the Glock 19 for Crumpton on Feb. 8, 2021, at the Franklin Gun Shop in Athens, Georgia, by falsely claiming to be the buyer on the Firearms Transaction Record-Form 4473 when Crumpton was the actual buyer. It is a federal offense to lie on Form 4473. Armstrong pleaded guilty to one count of false statement during the purchase of a firearm on Oct. 3 and faces a maximum of ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing for Armstrong will occur at a date determined by the Court.
Crumpton was originally indicted on four federal charges (for more information, please see https://www.justice.gov/usao-mdga/pr/federal-murder-attempted-robbery-firearms-charges-filed-shooting-death-oconee-county). The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in United States v. Taylor, handed down a month and ten days after Crumpton's federal indictment, found that attempted Hobbs Act robbery was not a crime of violence. Therefore, Counts Two and Three in Crumpton's original indictment were dismissed prior to trial.