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Dec 16, 2014 2:09 PM

Ashanti's mom testifies in fan's stalking trial

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) When a delusional Ashanti fan was sentenced to jail for spinning lewd fantasies about her in text messages to her mother, he said he would "always wish the best" for the Grammy-winning R&B singer.

Five years later, Devar Hurd is on trial again on charges of stalking Ashanti and her family by sending the singer X-rated tweets and posing for a photo with her sister at a charity event, despite a court order not to contact them at all.

And this time, the multiplatinum-selling singer is facing the prospect of an unusual courtroom encounter with a man the family says has harassed and frightened it for years he's representing himself.

"You're here why exactly?" Hurd asked the singer's mother-manager, Tina Douglas, on Tuesday.

"Because you're stalking my daughter. You had an order of protection, and you violated that order of protection. And I'm frightened for my family, especially Ashanti," Douglas said.

She said she felt sick to her stomach on realizing last year that Hurd was behind some Twitter accounts directing explicit messages to Ashanti and her younger sister, Kenashia.

Ashanti is expected to testify at the trial, where testimony has been punctuated with impromptu legal lessons and some scolding from the judge over Hurd's discursive, sometimes combative questioning.

Hurd a would-be rapper, sometime model, fitness trainer and car salesman was convicted in 2009 of stalking and aggravated harassment. He spent about two years in jail.

Soon after Hurd got out, he began tweeting at Ashanti, prosecutors said. Obscuring his identity, he sent Ashanti over 100 sometimes lewd tweets in less than a year.

Hurd argues that Ashanti could have blocked his tweets if they upset her and that he didn't harm her sister who didn't realize who he was in taking a picture with her at a 2013 basketball event.

As one of Ashanti's over 1.7 million Twitter followers in a public medium, he was just one adult tweeting another about "consensual sex, lovemaking and emotional heartbreak," he said in an opening statement Monday.

"I never engaged in any course of conduct directed at her with the intent to harass, annoy and scare her" or her family, he said.

In Hurd's earlier trial in the same courthouse, Tina Douglas said she was disgusted and frightened by his first raft of text messages, which included photos of his genitals and a picture of the family's Long Island home with a comment about him stopping by to visit. The messages prompted Douglas to boost security around their home and pull Ashanti out of a rehearsal for an-off Broadway revival of "The Wiz," the mother said.

Ashanti didn't testify at that trial.

Hurd, at the time, said he saw the messages just as racy banter, "sex texting" and jokes and didn't think Douglas would mind them. He noted that he was more than 700 miles away, in Indiana, when he sent the photo of the Douglas family's home.

After his conviction, he was diagnosed as having a delusional disorder, according to his trial judge at the time.

Ashanti, 34, got her first record deal at age 14 and went on to release hits including "Foolish" and "Only U." She also has acted in such films as "Coach Carter" and "John Tucker Must Die," as well as in the 2009 "The Wiz" revival.


Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter @ jennpeltz.


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