Camden woman objects to 10-to-15-year term for daughter's killer

Bryasia Pitts, 16, was stabbed to death in 2010.
Bryasia Pitts, 16, was stabbed to death in 2010.
Posted: November 01, 2012

Anika Pitts sometimes feels ambivalent about the young woman who stabbed her teenage daughter to death.

She notes, with compassion, that the jailed woman is now unable to hold her toddler.

But she still feels her daughter's killer is getting off easy.

Pitts' 16-year-old daughter, Bryasia, was killed in September 2010 during a fight, but there will be no trial. Prosecutors made a deal with Ebony Rand-Crosson, who was 18 when she stabbed Bryasia Pitts.

They allowed Rand-Crosson to plead guilty to aggravated manslaughter. When she is sentenced, she faces 10 to 15 years, instead of 30 years to life had she been convicted of first-degree murder.

"That's not enough," Pitts said from her Camden apartment on South Eighth Street, where she cares for three other daughters, 5, 13, and 16. "She stabbed my daughter nine times."

Jason Laughlin, spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, said proving murder could have been problematic. "We had to look at whether self-defense played a part," he said.

On Oct. 19, charges were reduced from first-degree murder to aggravated manslaughter. As part of the plea, Rand-Crosson admitted stabbing the victim.

What led to the lethal encounter is a tangled tale, and though the sides disagree on who the aggressor was, there is no dispute that the fight erupted because both women were dating the same man.

Rand-Crosson, also known as "Apples," was pregnant with the man's child. Pitts said Rand-Crosson assaulted her daughter at least once before the fatal stabbing.

Timothy Wright, Rand-Crosson's attorney, said his client would have argued self-defense had the case gone to trial. Bryasia Pitts, he said, had chased Rand-Crosson with a knife the day before the stabbing.

Pitts said her daughter cared deeply for her boyfriend and he had told her she made him happy. He had, however, fathered at least one child with Rand-Crosson and another was on the way. That child was born with Rand-Crosson in jail.

Weeks before the slaying, Pitts said, her daughter was with that boyfriend when Rand-Crosson stormed in and assaulted her.

Pitts said family members went to Rand-Crosson's home and a confrontation ensued. Wright said police reports show the opposite.

In September, the feud escalated. According to Pitts, Rand-Crosson was at a party with the boyfriend when Bryasia Pitts showed up. She said Rand-Crosson left the party with the man and Bryasia Pitts followed them to Alabama and Octagon Streets.

"My daughter was not a fighter," Pitts said. "That night, she stood up for herself and she lost her life."

Authorities said witnesses watched as the fight unfolded.

Rand-Crosson has been in jail since her arrest. "She feels terrible about what happened," Wright said.

Pitts is upset that the plea deal could allow Rand-Crosson to be free in as little as eight years, because she already has served two years. She must serve 85 percent of the sentence before she can be considered for parole. Sentencing is set for December.

"For them to tell me that she's not looking at a lot of time, I was just feeling powerless," said Pitts, who said she marked two years of being drug-free as she turned 36.

Her daughter's death, she said, changed her life from cocaine addiction to caring for her other children.

"I still see her lying on the table," Pitts said, recalling the night her daughter was pronounced dead at Cooper University Hospital. "From that moment, I wasn't the same person I used to be."

She had been through drug treatment a dozen times, but this time she vowed she wouldn't slip: "My soul was shaken."

She said she wants something good to come of her daughter's death, hoping it will serve as a cautionary tale for other young people.

She wants a law that would enhance the punishment for the slaying of a minor.

And she wants to see Rand-Crosson remain in prison for at least 20 years.


Contact Barbara Boyer at 856-779-3838, bboyer@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @BBBoyer.

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