A man convicted of serious shooting at a convenience store clerk 25 years ago as part of his intent to steal beer was killed in Georgia Wednesday night despite last moments from his lawyers to carry out a DNA test that they claim will be reproducible. row row inmate.
Ray Jefferson Cromartie, 52, who claimed he did not kill the clerk, was pronounced dead at 10:59 p.m. after a pentobarbital injection in the state prison in Jackson. He did not make the final statement – but instead requested that a prayer be read before the injection. while tossing on a gurney. The Associated Press reported that he took several deep breaths before closing his eyes and was still going for about five minutes after giving the drugs. At one point, it was reported that he formed his mouth in an "O" and breathed heavily.
Cromartie was convicted and sentenced to death for the April 1994 murder of Richard Slysz at a convenience store in Thomasville, near the Georgia-Florida line. The state said Cromartie was also shot and seriously injured another convenience store clerk the day before the killing.
Wednesday's murder came shortly after the United States Supreme Court, without explanation, denied two appeals by inmate lawyers. Defense attorneys have also recently asked state and federal courts to allow DNA testing of evidence collected from the shootings they say could prove he was not the shooter. The state contends that the DNA evidence sought could not prove his innocence.
Attorney Shawn Nolan called the denial of DNA tests "very sad and flawless" in a post-execution statement. "In this day and age, where DNA testing is routine, it is shocking that Georgia has decided to end this person's life without allowing us, her lawyers, to access the materials to do so. these are simple tests, ”Nolan said.
Evidence in Trial showed Cromartie borrowing a handkerchief from his cousin April 7, 1994, entered the Madison Street Deli that night and shot down clerk Dan Wilson, seriously injuring him. Wilson could not describe his attacker and the surveillance camera footage was not clear enough to identify the shooter.
Days later on April 10, Cromartie and Corey Clark asked Thaddeus Lucas to drive them to another store to steal beer, testimony shows. . Lucas parked, and two others entered the Junior Food Store. Cromartie shot Slysz twice in the head, prosecutors said. Unable to open the cash register, Cromartie and Clark fled after Cromartie grabbed two 12-pack beers. In both cases, Cromartie told others he shot the clerks, evidence showed.
Luke and Clark testified against Cromartie in a September 1997 trial that ended in his death. Luke and Clark each pleaded guilty to lesser charges, served jail time and were released. DNA testing could prove Cromartie was not the shooter, his lawyers argued. If he was not the shooter, he would not be guilty of malicious murder, the conviction of which he was sentenced to death, their court filings said. They also released three statements from Slysz's daughter Elizabeth Legette, who supports DNA testing. Last Tuesday reiterated his "serious questions" about Cromartie's guilt and criticized state officials for failing to respond to his calls for trial. He said, "This leads me to the conclusion that the rights of the victim only extend to those who support what the state wants most in cases of capital punishment – the murder of the offender or the alleged offender. "
The Associated Press contributed to this report.