On Nov. 20, Wilmington University alumnus Dr. Hakim Stovall will appear on “Fatal Attraction,” TV One’s gripping investigative series about scorned lovers and the deadly actions they take amid failed romances. Dr. Stovall, a subject matter expert and graduate of Wilmington University’s Prevention Science doctoral program, will offer insight on the 2018 Jacquelyn Smith murder case. Her husband, Keith Smith, murdered her but tried to blame panhandlers.
Dr. Stovall is a Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions postdoctoral fellow. He understands violence that affects families because he lived it, and his childhood experiences in West Philadelphia inspired him to make a difference.
“I grew up around individuals who were impacted by different family traumatic experiences that led them to a lifestyle of criminogenic behavior — individuals who were drug dealers, individuals who stole cars, things of that nature,” Dr. Stovall says. “One of my close friends, who lived on my grandmother’s block, was murdered because he sold a fake product of cocaine.”
Dr. Stovall met a medical examiner at the murder scene, and it changed the course of his life.
“I built a relationship with him along with other colleagues at the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s [Office],” says Dr. Stovall. “They would provide me with the opportunity to work as a clerk in their Fatality Review Unit. I worked there from the age of 16, moving around to different spots within that program.”
After studying Criminal Justice in college and earning a master’s degree, Dr. Stovall helped many people through his work in youth rehabilitation, adult corrections, reentry advocacy, community support, and COVID outreach. In 2022, he returned to the Medical Examiner’s Office — this time in Washington, D.C., as a fatality review program specialist. That training caught the attention of TV One and Johns Hopkins.
“We liked his experience in D.C.’s Medical Examiner’s Office doing fatality reviews because we believe that such reviews, if done right with commitments from city agencies, can be a foundation for data-driven problem-solving,” says Bloomberg Professor of American Health Dr. Daniel Webster, who is affiliated with the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions. “We valued Hakim’s professional experience in corrections and his ability to apply his lived experience to understand community violence and racial biases in the criminal legal system.”
Dr. Stovall compares his postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins to a medical doctor completing a residency. He’s sharpening his research skills and expanding his knowledge.
“When we talk about solutions to gun violence, we have to understand that it’s going to take time; that this isn’t a one-pill solution,” Dr. Stovall says. “The way our society is changing with the impact of social media and how technology has emerged over recent years — that we have to introduce new and innovative ideas that would coincide with the old and traditional ways of how things have gone within the realm of public safety.”
“When we talk about solutions to gun violence, we have to understand that it’s going to take time; that this isn’t a one-pill solution.” — Dr. Hakim Stovall
WilmU professors applaud Dr. Stovall’s success.
“He understands that creating policies and focusing on the total community is really the way to embrace prevention,” says Prevention Science Program Chair Dr. Shawn Stevens. “His growth has been tremendous.”
Dr. Stovall says he appreciates the “love and support of Wilmington University.” When his postdoctoral fellowship is completed, he hopes to pursue outreach and partnerships, he adds, “to have a representation of a black male working within communities of color to be able to advocate, in a sense, and translate information that different walks of life may not be too familiar with. My superpower, I believe, is that I’m a networker.”
Discover how Wilmington University’s doctoral program in Prevention Science addresses real-world challenges facing individuals and communities.