Former UGA football player convicted in RaceTrac clerk’s shooting in 2021

Ahkil Crumpton faces a maximum of 30 years in prison on 2 federal charges, still faces murder charge in Georgia

A former University of Georgia football player was found guilty Wednesday in federal court for his involvement in the 2021 shooting death of an Oconee County gas station clerk, officials said.

Ahkil Nasir Crumpton, of Philadelphia, was convicted by an Athens jury on one count of interference with commerce by attempted robbery and one count of false statement during the purchase of a firearm, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia. Crumpton, 26, faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for the attempted robbery charge and a maximum of 10 years in prison for the firearm charge.

A sentencing date will be determined by the court. Crumpton is not eligible for parole.

Crumpton was arrested by the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office in March 2022 after being under investigation for more than a month. Officials with the sheriff’s office said ballistics evidence tied him to the death of 23-year-old Elijah James Wood, who was shot at a RaceTrac on Hog Mountain Road outside of Watkinsville on March 19, 2021.

Two federal charges — use and discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and murder with a firearm during a crime of violence — were dismissed earlier this year after defense attorneys for Crumpton filed a motion arguing that the attempted robbery charge does not qualify “as a crime of violence.” According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he is still facing murder and other charges in Georgia.

After hours of investigative work that also included federal authorities, officials said they were able to forensically match the shell casing from the gas station scene to another crime scene in Philadelphia. Crumpton was being held in Philadelphia for a firearm violation at the time and investigators were able to establish a link between the Philadelphia and Athens cases.

Crumpton, who played wide receiver for UGA in 2017 and 2018, was a student until 2021 but did not graduate.

“We were stunned to learn that the suspect in this horrific crime is a former UGA student-athlete,” the UGA Athletic Association said in a statement shortly after Crumpton was arrested. “We offer our heartfelt sympathy to Elijah Wood’s family.”

Elijah James Wood

Credit: Oconee County Sheriff's Office

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Credit: Oconee County Sheriff's Office

Wood had been working alone on the graveyard shift when he was found dead behind the checkout counter at about 2 a.m. by a customer who called police, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Wood was filling in for a sick coworker.

Surveillance footage appears to show a man entering the gas station alone, then leaving, before returning at 1:15 a.m. with his face covered, wearing dark clothing and gloves. Upon returning, he approached Wood at the cash register and pointed a Glock 19 pistol before firing one round at close range that struck the clerk in the chest, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Wood’s girlfriend testified that she was on a Facetime call with him at the time of the shooting. Investigators were able to locate one 9mm shell casing from the scene.

“No matter today’s outcome, there is no returning Elijah Wood to his family and friends, who have had to endure both the pain of his loss and many unanswered questions,” U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary said in a statement. “I hope that today’s verdict offers some measure of justice for Elijah Wood’s family.”

Months later, Crumpton shot and killed a man in Philadelphia during a fight after being held at gunpoint and robbed, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office found that shooting to be justified, so Crumpton is not facing charges there, the attorney’s office confirmed.

But investigators found a 9mm shell casing from the scene and submitted it to the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network for comparison testing. The tests showed it matched the gun used in Wood’s murder, the attorney’s office confirmed.

In March 2022, federal agents arrested Crumpton in Philadelphia on murder warrants out of Oconee County. He jumped out of his bedroom window to escape but was taken into custody by an FBI SWAT team.

While searching his bedroom, federal agents said they found the Glock 19 pistol inside Crumpton’s official 2018 Rose Bowl Game backpack.

Co-defendant James North Armstrong testified that he purchased the gun for Crumpton illegally in Athens by falsely claiming he was the buyer. Armstrong pleaded guilty to one count of false statement during the purchase of a firearm on Oct. 3 and faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

“Ahkil Crumpton’s crime was senseless, tragic and irreversible,” Supervisory Senior Resident Agent Robert Gibbs of the FBI’s Athens office said in a statement. “We hope Elijah Wood’s family can find some healing in this verdict.”