Bowie State University murder trial set to begin

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Local,Crime,Ben Giles

Defense attorneys appear prepared to argue that the Bowie State University student charged in 2011 with stabbing her roommate to death was acting in self-defense when a simple dorm room dispute escalated into a deadly altercation.

Alexis Simpson, 20, was indicted in October 2011 for murder and carrying a dangerous weapon in the death of 18-year-old Dominique Frazier. Jury selection for the case wrapped up Thursday, and the trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

The two women were roommates at Bowie State University at the start of the 2011-12 school year, and had difficulty getting along, according to witness testimony in court documents.

Prosecutors allege that on Sept. 15, 2011, a fight over music being played on Frazier's iPod turned physical, with Frazier and Simpson trading blows before another roommate intervened and pushed Simpson into her dorm room.

Simpson emerged minutes later with a knife and entered Frazier's bedroom, court records show. A witness described Simpson swinging her arm at Frazier, as if to punch her, before Frazier staggered out of the apartment holding her throat while her neck bled, according to court records.

"I didn't mean to do it, you all don't know what I've been through, you all jumped me," Simpson allegedly said.

The indictment for common-law murder in Maryland provides the jury some flexibility to determine whether Frazier committed first- or second-degree murder, or no crime at all, Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office spokeswoman Nancy Lineman said.

Lineman declined to comment further on the case.

That jury flexibility isn't necessarily an advantage for the prosecutors, according to David Benowitz, a District-based criminal defense lawyer.

"The facts still have to fit [the crime]," Benowitz said.

Simpson was released in April on a $250,000 bond, with orders to stay at to her mother's District Heights home. Defense attorneys argued at the hearing Simpson had acted in self-defense the night Frazier died.

Christopher Griffiths, an attorney for Simpson, told the Washington Times at the time of her release that she had been "threatened and intimidated by her roommate" in the few weeks they lived together since Simpson had transferred to Bowie State University from a school in Atlanta.

Griffiths declined to comment on the case before it goes to trial.

bgiles@washingtonexaminer.com

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Ben Giles

Staff Writer - Crime Beat
The Washington Examiner