CHARLOTTE, NC (Michael Gordon/The Charlotte Observer) - On a summer night in 2016, Tim Crumitie put two bullets in the head of his former girlfriend to eliminate the only eyewitness to his execution-style shooting that night of a romantic rival.
On Wednesday, Kimberly Cherry had the last word.
Based in part on her testimony, a Mecklenburg County jury convicted Crumitie of first-degree murder in the killing of Michael Gretsinger. Crumitie, 52, was also found guilty of the attempted first-degree murder of Cherry, burglary, kidnapping and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Superior Court Judge Hugh Lewis sentenced the former Kannapolis pastor to a mandatory life in prison without parole.
Crumitie had a periodic relationship with Cherry until she fell in love with Gretsinger, 38. On the night of Aug. 5, 2016, the couple was returning to Cherry's apartment in University City to retrieve her phone when Crumitie, holding a handgun, stepped out from behind the front door.
With Gretsinger on his knees, Crumitie shot him in the head, prosecutors say. He died nine days later.
Crumitie then bound Cherry, placed her in her car, and drove to his Rowan County home where he kept her for several hours, prosecutors say. He then drove Cherry back to a construction site near her apartment, removed her from the car and told her to turn around.
He then shot Cherry in the back of the head. She fell to the ground and pretended to be dead. Crumitie shot her again. Neither bullet reached her brain.
Crumitie then put Cherry in the trunk of the car and drove to the parking lot outside her apartment. After he left, Cherry popped the trunk and escaped to a neighbor's home.
The 911 call she placed that night served as the first dramatic moment of the trial. The jury heard an operator ask the wounded woman who he shot her. "His name is Tim," Cherry replied.
With her family and friends watching, Cherry later testified in person against Crumitie.
The defendant's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Mike Kabakoff, told the jury in his opening statement that Cherry had lied about the events leading up the shooting, and that Charlotte-Mecklenburg police had ignored other leads after deciding early on that Crumitie was their target.