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Graphic Testimony in Murder of FAMU Basketball Player

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By Julie Montanaro
March 11, 2014 6:55pm

Was it jealous rage or self defense? A woman is now on trial in the stabbing death of her girlfriend.

Her girlfriend was a star basketball player at FAMU and today friends described the fight that left Shannon Washington dead.

"Who stabbed her?"

"Her girlfriend."

"Her girlfriend? Is she still there?"

"Yeah, she's here freaking out."

Tiona Richardson broke down in tears as she listened to the 911 call she made as FAMU basketball player Shannon Washington lay slumped and bleeding behind her bedroom door.

"There was blood everywhere, it's kind of like Shannon was laying there in a pool of blood," Richardson testified Tuesday.

Starquineshia Palmer cried too. She's accused of stabbing Washington during a heated argument at her University Courtyard apartment in the wee hours of September 4, 2011.

"Manipulation, domination, strangulation, self defense" is what this case comes down to, defense attorney Andy Thomas told the jury.

Palmer's attorney contends it was self defense, that the bigger stronger woman attacked her in the bathtub first.

"I am tired of your (expletive) ... with no explanation...while she starts strangling her in the bathtub and pressing her against the tub," Thomas said. He intends to call medical personnel to testify about the bruises on Palmer's knees and swelling around her neck.

Prosecutors contend there was no splashing and no struggle in that bathroom and say Washington didn't even take it seriously when Palmer grabbed a kitchen knife.

"Shannon was kind of like...she does this all the time, don't worry," Richardson testified. Soon Richardson and Washington's roommate heard screams. They ran to discover Washington had been stabbed in the neck and back and Palmer sitting on the edge of the bed.

She was "just screaming I did it. I don't care, Take me away. I don't care."

Washington was a highly touted recruit who had just arrived on FAMU's campus a few weeks earlier. She had not yet played her first game.

The trial is expected to last the rest of the week. It's not clear yet if Palmer will testify in her own defense.


By Julie Montanaro
March 11, 2014, 11:45am

Tallahassee, Fla. -- Tiona Richardson says Star Palmer and Shannon Washington were arguing "non-stop" that night, and Palmer was yelling the only way she was leaving "is if the police drag me out of here."

Richardson says she had seen Palmer with a knife moments earlier but says Washington came out of her room and told her not to worry about it because Palmer was just being dramatic. "She does this all the time."

Richardson says she was texting the assistant basketball coach to tell her about the knife when she heard Palmer screaming.

Richardson says she and Washington's roommate ran to Washington's bedroom. She says they thought Palmer was hurt but when they looked inside she testified Palmer was sitting on the edge of the bed and Washington's body was on the floor, blocking the door.

"There was blood everywhere," Richardson testified. She broke down in tears as prosecutors played the frantic 911 call she made that night. Someone was screaming hysterically in the background. Richardson says it was Palmer.

Richardson says Palmer called her mother. She testified she overheard Palmer telling her mother "I did it. I killed her. Take care of my kids."

Richardson and Washington's roommate were trying to follow the operators instructions for CPR. She says Washington was gasping for air and then all of sudden she just stopped.

Richardson testified that Palmer said "You don't understand" and as she was led away in handcuffs said "Take me away. I don't care."


By Julie Montanaro
March 11, 2014, 10:15am

Tallahassee, Fla. -- Defense attorneys say Star Palmer and Shannon Washington frequently argued, broke up and got back together. He said the couple was "star crossed, dysfunctional" but loved each other.

The defense attorney claims Shannon Washington said "I'm tired of your (expletive)" and then tried to strangle Palmer in the bathtub and on the bed.

The defense attorney says Palmer had bruises and scratches on her body that prove she was defending herself and swelling on her neck to show Washington tried to choke her.

Defense attorneys say when Palmer went to get a knife she asked the friend and roommate to call the police.

"Manipulation, domination, strangulation," the defense attorney told the jury. He says Palmer told police afterward "If I hadn't done it, it might have been me." This was not a rage killing, he said, it was a visceral reaction.


By Julie Montanaro
March 11, 2014, 9:45am

Tallahassee, Fla. -- Starquineshia Palmer is now on trial for the September 2011 murder of FAMU basketball player Shannon Washington.

Prosecutors say Shannon Washington and Star Palmer had been in a relationship that was not "always harmonious" and contend Washington was trying to break up with Palmer when the deadly stabbing occurred.

Prosecutors say the two were arguing that night and a friend was so concerned she called the assistant basketball coach. The coach came to check on them, prosecutors say, and about 30 minutes after the coach left the friend says she saw Palmer with a knife.

Prosecutors say the friend and a roommate said Washington reassured them that nothing was wrong, but soon afterward they heard screaming from inside Washington's bedroom and discovered Washington slumped against the door. She had been stabbed twice.


By Julie Montanaro
March 10, 2014, 2:30pm

Tallahassee, Fla. -- Starquineshia Palmer will stand trial this week for the murder of FAMU basketball player, Shannon Washington.

Today, attorneys chose six jurors and two alternates to hear the case.

Opening arguments are scheduled to begin Tuesday morning. The trial is expected to last the rest of the week.

Palmer is accused of stabbing Washington to death during a domestic dispute in September 2011.


October 6, 2011 11:30am

A Leon County grand jury has indicted Starquinesha Palmer for first degree murder in the death of FAMU basketball player Shannon Washington.

Palmer is accused of stabbing Washington to death in her apartment on September 4th.


[UPDATE] 9-6 -

The police report is attached to the story in PDF format above.


Tallahassee, Florida 9-5 --

The woman accused of killing a FAMU basketball player has been denied bond.

Starquineshia Palmer had her first appearance Monday morning. She was appointed a public defender, and was ordered to have DNA samples.

TPD says Palmer killed FAMU women's basketball player, Shannon Washington, by stabbing her with a kitchen knife.

They say Palmer was a friend of Washington's and was visiting for the weekend.


Tallahassee 9-4-11 11:23PM

Shannon Washington was a transfer player to the FAMU basketball team, but she'll never get the chance to play with the Rattlers. Washington was stabbed to death early Sunday morning. FAMU students gathered in Lee Hall on campus to remember her."
Her sister joined the vigil with another family member to thank the huge crowd of about 200 FAMU students that came out to remember her sister.

"She was only here for a week or two, and she was really happy because she wanted to play ball for FAMU. She was really happy to be a Rattler." The FAMU women's basketball coach has known Washington for seven years and was heartbroken at the vigil.

"Shannon was a great individual, she worked hard and she had a passion in the classroom and on the court." Many other members of the team stood up to talk about how wonderful of a person Washington was.

"I just want to say I love you Shannon and I know you're in a better place."

"Washington was a standout basketball player at Illinois Valley Community College. She was expected to play this fall as a shooting guard for the Rattlers.


Tallahassee 9-4-11 6:43 PM

Tonight's vigil has been moved to Lee Hall.


Tallahassee 9-4-11 1:02 p.m.

Loved ones are having a tonight at the Eternal Flame on FAMU's campus at 8:30 p.m. in the courtyard.


Tallahassee 9-4-11 11:20 a.m.

Starquineshia Palmer had a previous arrest: Terry at the Manatee County Sheriff's Office says Palmer was on probation for her arrest on no valid driver's license.

Manatee County Sheriff's deputies picked her up on a warrant out of Hillsborough County.


Tallahassee 9-4-11

FAMU Press Release:

Florida A&M University (FAMU) is mourning the loss of Shannon Washington, a student and women’s basketball player.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to Shannon’s family and members of the Lady Rattlers Basketball Team,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons. “For Shannon to be killed in the prime of her life is tragic and senseless. She had so much promise as a student athlete. This is a great loss for the university and our athletic program.”

The FAMU Student Government Association will have a vigil tonight at 8:30 p.m. at the FAMU Eternal Flame to celebrate the life of Washington.

Washington was a standout basketball player at Illinois Valley Community College (IVCC) earning All-American honors both seasons at IVCC.

A native of Sarasota, Fla., her success at IVCC earned her the distinction of having a replica of her jersey to be honored in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.

Washington transferred to FAMU and was expected to play this fall as a shooting guard.

“It is truly a trying situation to lose a student-athlete that has come to us to further her education and excel at her sport,” said LeDawn Gibson, FAMU’s Head Women’s Basketball Coach. “As a coach, this is the kind of incident you just hope you never have to deal with — the death of one of your players at such a young age.”

“The closeness of the students, coaches and staff at FAMU Athletics resembles that of a family,” said Derek Horne, FAMU’s director of Athletics. “Losing a family member is never easy. Our task now is to make sure we learn from this, and make as much effort at preparing our student athletes for all situations that may occur.”


Tallahassee 9-4-11

Tallahassee Police Department Press Release

The Tallahassee Police Department responded to a report of a stabbing at 3025 South Adams Street this morning at approximately 2:03 AM.

Officers located victim Shannon Washington in the apartment, with a knife wound to her neck.

The victim was initially treated by officers on-scene, until EMS arrived.

She was then transported to the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital where she succumbed to her injuries.

The victim was a FAMU student athlete, who was a member of the women’s basketball team.

TPD has been in contact with university officials.

TPD Victim Advocates have been working with the FAMU Athletic Department, and the victim’s teammates.

Suspect Starquineshia Palmer was still at the apartment upon the arrival of officers.

The investigation determined she did not live in the apartment, but traveled to Tallahassee from Central Florida to visit the victim for the weekend.

The victim and Palmer began to argue in the early morning hours, resulting in Palmer stabbing the victim with a kitchen knife.

Palmer was detained and transported to the Tallahassee Police Department where she was interviewed and subsequently charged with first degree murder.

Palmer was then transported to the Leon County Jail.

Arrested: Starquineshia Palmer, black female, 10/26/1990


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