Former Georgia football LB Juwan Taylor testifies in federal court

A former University of Georgia football player testified Wednesday that on the day a Racetrac station employee was shot and killed in 2021, he knew that a former teammate, Ahkil Nasir Crumpton, had allegedly committed the crime.

Juwan Taylor, who played linebacker for the Bulldogs from 2015 to 2018, testified in U.S. District Court in Athens that he kept the confession secret for more than a year, even when he was confronted by law enforcement about the crime.

Taylor, a father of two, works as a player development assistant in the UGA athletic department, where he also helps coach linebackers.

Ractrac trial version:Racetrac’s attempted robbery trial begins in Athens federal court against the former UGA football player

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The killing occurred on March 19, 2021, when 23-year-old night shift worker Elijah Wood was fatally shot behind the checkout counter by a man wearing a mask and all-black clothing.

The crime remained unsolved for a year. Then on March 17, 2022, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office identified 24-year-old Crumpton of Philadelphia as a murder suspect.

Former Georgia football player Ahkil Crumpton faces multiple charges

Crumpton, who played wide receiver for the Bulldogs for two years, is on trial in federal court on charges of interference with commerce by attempted robbery and making false statements when purchasing a firearm. He was originally charged with murder in a federal indictment, but that charge was dismissed after the court ruled that attempted robbery is no longer considered a violent crime in the federal system and cannot be linked to the murder charge under federal guidelines.

If convicted in the current trial, he could face a maximum of 30 years in prison. Crumpton still faces murder charges in Oconee County, which have not yet been tried.

Crumpton was arrested on March 16, 2021, in Philadelphia, where police there said he shot a man who appeared to be trying to rob him.

On the day of Crumpton’s arrest, U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Agent Brian Moore and Oconee Sheriff’s Capt. Vic Green met with Taylor, who at the time was participating in Pro Day activities for UGA football players. Campus participated. They knew that Taylor and Crumpton had once lived in the same apartment. They were sitting in a car together on the night of July 2, 2021, when they were stopped by officers as part of an investigation into a burglary in which they were not involved, according to court testimony.

After meeting Taylor at the event, officers took Taylor off campus to a nearby parking lot for a private interview.

“We know you were not involved (in the killing),” Green is heard saying in the recorded conversation played in court. “But we need to know what was going on with Crumpton.”

Taylor said he didn’t tell them anything.

“I was scared. I didn’t know what to do,” he testified.

During the lengthy conversation, which spanned more than 24 minutes, they asked Taylor what the suspect had told him about the Racetrac shooting.

Again, Taylor said nothing, but the two experienced attorneys apparently could tell that Taylor was holding back.

“I can see your heart beating in your chest,” Moore tells him. “It’s like getting ready to play football.”

After the law enforcement officers left, Taylor said he called Bryant Gantt, UGA football’s director of player relations. He later hired Athens lawyer Edward Tolley, a criminal law veteran. After the two discussed the matter, Taylor agreed to meet with law enforcement and tell them what he knew about that day.

Taylor said Crumpton, who he knew had a Glock 40 pistol he had purchased from a local tattoo artist, woke him up early on March 19, 2021, asking him to meet him at the front gate of Athens Ridge Oconee County apartments “buzzing through.” They lived in separate bedrooms with two other roommates in the same apartment.

A few minutes later, Taylor said he heard a noise outside his bedroom door. It was Crumpton and Taylor said his friend was “distraught.”

According to authorities, the person pictured killing an employee at the RaceTrac station in Watkinsville early March 19, 2021 is Akhil Nasir Crumpton.

“I’ve never seen him like that before. He was in pain,” Taylor testified.

In desperation, Crumpton said, “I needed the money,” adding, “I shot him,” Taylor said.

At the time, he said Crumpton was wearing a white shirt, black pants and black shoes.

Police reported that the crime at the Racetrac occurred around 1:30 a.m. The gas station is located on US Highway 441, often called the Macon Highway. Athens Ridge Apartments are approximately 2 miles away. The apartment residents are predominantly students.

When Crumpton returned to his apartment, he was still holding the Glock pistol, Taylor said.

“I tried to get him to calm down,” he testified.

As they talked, Taylor said Crumpton never said who he shot or where.

After Crumpton left, Taylor testified he sat on his bed and couldn’t sleep. Then he went to work early in the morning.

Later that day, according to Taylor, Crumpton showed him a message on his cell phone about the killing.

Again Crumpton admitted, “I didn’t mean to. I just needed the money,” Taylor testified.

“I was afraid to tell anyone,” said the former linebacker, who played in all 14 games as a senior.

After the day of the crime, Taylor testified that he and Crumpton remained friends and even ran a business together, but they never spoke again about what happened at the Racetrac.

During Taylor’s testimony, Wood’s father could be seen leaving his seat in the courtroom and leaving. He didn’t return.

The trial continues Thursday with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Morrison and Daniel Peach presenting more evidence linking Crumpton to the firearm used in the attempted robbery. Oconee County Sheriff’s Sgt. Justin Cash testified that the gun was found in a bedroom Crumpton used at his grandparents’ home in Philadelphia.