MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – A guilty verdict has been returned in the case of Shanterrica Madden, a former Middle Tennessee State University student accused of stabbing her roommate to death.
The sequestered jury, which was selected from Chattanooga, was sent out around 12:30 p.m. Monday and returned just after 2:30 p.m.
Madden, 19, was found guilty of a lesser charge of second degree murder and tampering with evidence. Sentencing in the case was scheduled for July 17.
Second degree murder is a class A felony, Madden could serve between 15 and 60 years for the charge.
Assistant District Attorney Paul Newman began his closing arguments Monday by asking jurors to remember Madden's testimony from Saturday: "I could have helped. I could have saved her."
He said Monday that there's no dispute that Madden stabbed Tina Stewart to death at their off-campus apartment on March 2, 2011. He said Madden wants the jury to believe the stabbing was in self-defense but said she was not credible and the stabbing was premeditated and intentional.
He then asked the jury to use common sense throughout deliberation, saying it was not their duty to be an investigator.
He said that Madden herself said the first stab wound was the only one she remembered.
"Tina Stewart was stabbed multiple times. This was not an accident," Newman said.
He closed with a statement about how Stewart's life was cut too short.
"Tina Stewart was 21, and she will never, ever, ever be 22," he said.
Defense attorney Joe Brandon Jr. argued in closing arguments that the death was a result of a series of unfortunate events and Madden acted in self-defense during a physical fight.
"It's sad we're here over something this trivial, but we are," he explained.
He went on to talk about that he did not believe the knife came from the kitchen, but from Tina's room.
"I believe Tina had used the knife before, that's why it was bent, that's why it was broken, that's why it was in her room," Brandon said to the jury.
He also used an example of a baseball player missing a base while running home as how the prosecution hasn't touched every base with their evidence.
He said Madden only used half of the knife, and it was not done knowingly.
"(Madden) has a presumption of innocence. That's what you're starting from," he added.
Brandon ended his arguments by reading off the lesser charges to the jury, saying the case doesn't meet first degree murder or any lesser charges.
In the prosecution rebuttal, District Attorney Bill Whitesell said Madden has given several versions of what happened, but they will never know Tina's side of the story.
"We only have Madden to rely on," he said.
He said the autopsy showed more wounds than Madden admitted to, and that Madden lied with each opportunity to help Stewart.
"Even if Madden acted in self defense, she told you she meant to stab Stewart," he asserted.
He ended by telling the jury to convict Madden of first degree murder.
"Make the tough decision in this case," he said.
The jury has four days of testimony, including from the defendant, to consider before determining the fate of Madden.
Sobbing on the stand, Madden on Saturday said she wished she had turned the knife on herself after the fight with Stewart.
"During the fight, I was yelling for Tina to stop, let me go and she just wouldn't do it," Shanterrica said. "I was beggin', and she act [sic] like she didn't hear me. I was scared she was going to hurt me."
Madden testified that she was in shock and scared after the fight and that's why she tried to cover up the evidence.
"I went to the kitchen and started grabbing things. I grabbed the garbage bag, I grabbed the knives that I could and I just threw them in the garbage after Renee left," she said.
"Why?" asked defense attorney Joe Brandon.
"'Cause I was scared, I didn't know what to do. She left me alone. I didn't have anyone to help me understand," she answered.
The confrontation took place after the Stewart called a courtesy officer to report Madden for smoking marijuana.
She has claimed self-defense, and said Stewart lunged at her first.
Meanwhile, District Attorney General Bill Whitesell suggested that Madden hid the knife in her bra and backed Stewart into a corner before killing her.
Madden also took an opportunity to apologize to Stewart's family.
"I should have helped her, but my mind was everywhere, and I'm sorry I didn't help her; I'm just sorry. I could have saved her. I'm sorry," she said before the court.
Madden's mother Shantel also took the stand Saturday, and also apologized to the Stewart family.
"I would like to say to the Stewart family, I'm sorry. I wish…" Shantel said.
Unable to finish her words, Shantel Madden's testimony continued where she shared that since this horrific ordeal the 10-year marriage to her high school sweetheart has been struggling.
Defense attorney Joe Brandon asked for an acquittal, but the judge said no.