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No verdict in College Park stabbing trial

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

A mistrial has been declared in the case of a College Park man accused of stabbing his male lover to death in 2007.

The trial of Antonio Bernard Rome, 26, ended with a hung jury Thursday, according to Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson.

Rome was charged in the Sept. 28, 2007 stabbing death of Tommy Dayshawn Crooks.

Lawson said her office plans to retry the case.

Rome testified in Clayton County Superior Court Wednesday that he stabbed Crooks three times in self-defense, after Crooks charged at him with a flower pot.

The incident occurred at 5966 Friar Court in College Park, while Rome was house-sitting for a friend, according to testimony in the case. A 2008 indictment charges Rome with malice murder, felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime.

"He [Crooks] charged after me. He was moving pretty fast," Rome told the court Wednesday.

"You had difficulty fending him off when he had a four-and-a-half-inch stab to the gut?" Clayton County Assistant District Attorney Katie Powers asked Rome.

"I was in a panic," Rome responded. "I was shocked the whole time, and I was scared."

During a taped interview with Clayton County Police shown in court Tuesday, Rome said on the night of the incident, he and Crooks had been drinking cognac, watching television and having sex. He said later, while they were watching a movie, Crooks wanted to have sex again, but Rome refused.

Rome said Crooks kept "aggravating" him, and playfully hitting him, but the playful hitting eventually turned more serious.

Later, Rome said, as he and Crooks were leaving the house, Crooks picked up a flower pot outside and raised it above his head, as if he intended to hit Rome with it.

Rome said he then pulled a knife from his pocket and stabbed Crooks.

A neighbor called 911, and Crooks died at a local hospital, according to police testimony in the case. Rome was arrested later.

Lawson said Rome could be held in the Clayton County Jail until he is tried again. He was still in the jail Thursday night, according to jail officials.