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Trial starts in slaying of student in Bowie State dorm

- The Washington Times - Monday, November 12, 2012

A Bowie State University student is scheduled for trial Tuesday in the slaying last year of her college roommate during a dispute that stemmed from an iPod playing too loud.

Alexis Simpson, 20, is accused of stabbing Dominique Frazier, 18, in the throat during a fight in the apartment they had shared for just three weeks when the killing occurred in September 2011. Although she was charged with first-degree murder and carrying a dangerous weapon, Ms. Simpson was granted bond and released from jail in April to await her trial. As part of her conditions of release, Ms. Simpson was confined to her mother's District Heights home and not allowed any visitors at the house, court records state.

At the time, her defense attorney Christopher Griffiths, said Ms. Simpson would have a strong argument that she acted in self-defense. She said was being intimidated and harassed by her roommate. In fact, the two had fought so often during the brief period that they lived together that Ms. Simpson, a business major who transferred from Clark Atlanta University, had requested to be moved out of the four-person suite, Mr. Griffiths had said.

Mr. Griffiths could not be reached Monday.

As a young, female college student, Ms. Simpson is far from the typical murder suspect in Prince George's County, a factor that could make it more likely for jurors to be sympathetic to her story, former Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said.

"I think the big issue around this one is you've got a real unique defendant," said Mr. Ivey, who served as the county state's attorney from 2003 to 2011. "You don't have a lot of college students on trial for murder in Prince George's County."

Mr. Ivey said he only recalls one other college student who went on trial for murder during the eight years he was the county's top prosecutor.

"I think from a jury perspective, you'll have a defendant who is more sympathetic than usual," he said.

The stabbing occurred the evening of Sept. 15 as the roommates were in their apartment in the Christa McAuliffe Residential Community getting ready to attend a school-sponsored comedy show as part of homecoming festivities, according to court documents. Ms. Simpson turned off music that was playing on Frazier's iPod in their shared bathroom and the two got into an argument that turned physical. Another person in the apartment separated the two by shoving Ms. Simpson into her room and closing the door.

A few minutes later, Ms. Simpson emerged from her room with what looked like a knife in her hand, went into Frazier's room and began swinging at her, according to court documents. Frazier clutched her throat and staggered outside the apartment where she collapsed on the floor. Ms. Simpson told witnesses she "didn't mean to do it," before leaving the apartment, court documents state. Ms. Simpson disappeared for several hours before turning herself in to police.

The murder trial is scheduled to run from Tuesday through Thursday, with opening arguments presented Tuesday morning.

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