Innocent plea in Hilltop stabbing |

Innocent plea in Hilltop stabbing

The woman accused of stabbing her husband in the heart has pleaded innocent to charges of attempted murder after an alleged altercation between the couple in a Hilltop parking lot – in Truckee – Feb. 7.

Salina Ahtye Crawford, 25 of San Francisco, was charged in the Nevada County Superior Court Truckee division with the attempted murder of her husband, 36-year-old Brett Anthony Crawford. The stabbing reportedly occurred during a domestic dispute. She was released from Nevada County Jail Feb. 10 on $25,000 bail on a condition that she stays away from her husband.

According to Truckee police reports, Crawford stabbed her husband with a 4-inch dirk (a straight-bladed dagger) during the struggle on the passenger seat of his 1999 Volvo.

After the altercation, at approximately 2:40 p.m., Crawford drove her husband to Tahoe Forest Hospital where emergency room surgeons saved his life, hospital representatives said. Brett Crawford is currently in stable condition at Washoe Medical Center, where he was later transferred.

Accounts of the details surrounding the incident remain questionable when comparing the suspect’s police interview with eyewitness testimony.

A Tahoe Forest Hospital registration clerk described Crawford as a well-dressed “college student” type. An emergency room registered nurse told police he did not recall much about Crawford except that she was screaming.

Tahoe Forest Hospital surgeons performed emergency open-heart surgery on Crawford’s husband, said hospital representatives.

“They cracked open his chest, removed the knife, if you believe it or not, and sewed up his heart. The surgeons basically saved his life; people don’t realize what our community hospital is capable of,” hospital representative Paige Nebeker said. Tahoe Forest qualifies as a level III trauma center.

After Crawford dropped off her husband, she left immediately, the hospital clerk told police. Crawford later told police that she left the hospital and returned to the Hilltop parking lot to get her husband’s identification card, turn down a crock pot that was cooking inside the apartment and “wipe some things down.”

When Crawford returned to Tahoe Forest, she spoke to Truckee police Officer Don Garrett, who later reported that Crawford appeared calm, intelligent and soft-spoken. She told police she was an out-of-work graphic designer. Crawford shed some tears during Garrett’s interview with her, but didn’t sob out of control, according to his report.

Crawford told police she had been visiting a friend in the Rue Hilltop Northstar employee apartments for a couple days when her husband arrived unannounced. Crawford’s friend was in Reno at the time, Crawford told police.

The Crawfords made plans to go to Squaw Valley to ski a half day, and Crawford told police that her husband was getting angry because it was getting to be late in the afternoon.

Crawford took her husband’s car keys and went to his Volvo to get her stereo face plate, according to police reports. She was angry and considered packing and leaving right then, Crawford told police.

Crawford said her husband walked up the passenger seat of his car where she was sitting and struck her several times on the side of the face. She did not complain of any injury during her report to Officer Garrett, nor did Garrett see any injury on her face.

Crawford alleged that her husband continued to strike her, and she grabbed a knife from one of the car seats and started swinging it at the car seat.

Crawford said her husband got on top of her, and she says, fell on top of her.

“That’s when it happened,” Crawford told police.

She said her husband was able to get out of his Volvo on his own, and she drove him to the hospital in her Mitsubishi Montero.

Eye witness account says otherwise

A Northstar employee living in the Hilltop apartment complex told police he was standing outside smoking a cigarette when the alleged incident occurred.

He told police he noticed a man and woman he’d never seen before – matching the Crawfords’ descriptions – near the Volvo. The witness said he noticed them because they appeared to be playing around and he could hear them yelling at each other. The witness characterized the couple’s behavior as “flirting,” although he said he could hear the male yelling angrily “It’s mine! It’s mine!”

The couple got inside the vehicle, but the witness told police he couldn’t see what was going on inside, except that he saw the female on top of the male.

The witness told police that he finished his cigarette and went inside his apartment.

History of domestic violence?

In slightly more than one year of marriage, the Crawfords have had a history of domestic violence, according to police reports. Since December 2003, there have been four or five incidents in which San Francisco police have been dispatched regarding domestic disputes and violence between the Crawfords.

At one point, Crawford said she obtained an emergency protective order against her husband. The order has since expired, police say.

In an interview with Truckee police Officer Garrett at Tahoe Forest Hospital, Crawford said her husband is a drug addict and is recently off parole. She told police she doesn’t know what type of drugs her husband uses – just that it’s not marijuana and he smokes it out of a pipe, she said.

She had been trying to get her husband to enter a treatment program because he had made efforts to quit, Crawford told police.

Truckee police, in conjunction with authorities in San Francisco, are conducting a background investigation on the Crawfords, said Truckee police interim Cmdr. Dave Dohn.

The evidence

Upon investigating the Volvo, police reportedly found blood stains inside the vehicle and the leather seats were cut. Both of the Crawfords’ vehicles were towed and have been admitted into evidence, as have the clothes Brett Crawford was wearing at the time of the stabbing.

Truckee police obtained Brett Crawford’s blood and urine samples from the hospital for further investigation.

Crawford was represented in Nevada County Superior Court by Truckee criminal attorney Dale E. Wood, but another lawyer will represent her in future proceedings.

Her next court appearance will be March 2. If found guilty, Crawford could face up to nine years in prison.

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