Stay of execution dismissed for Ray Jefferson Cromartie

Ray Jefferson Cromartie

ATLANTA — The Georgia Supreme of Georgia has voted unanimously to dismiss Ray Jefferson Cromartie’s request for a stay of his execution.

Cromartie, convicted for a 1994 murder in Thomas County, is currently set to be executed at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.

The court has also denied his request to hear an appeal of the Thomas County Superior Court’s denial of his motion for DNA testing and a new trial. Two matters regarding Cromartie’s case remain pending in state courts, an “emergency motion to recall order setting execution period,” which is in Thomas County Superior Court, and a habeas petition in Butts County Superior Court asking for his sentence to be vacated.

A third matter is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia in Valdosta in which Cromartie seeks DNA testing.

Cromartie was convicted in 1997 for the murder of Richard Slysz, and was also found to have critically wounded Dan Wilson.

The attorney representing him is urging the approval of DNA testing.

“With the clock ticking, there is still time to prevent an unjust execution if the courts recognize Ray Cromartie’s civil right to get the DNA evidence tested before his scheduled execution on October 30th," Shawn Nolan, attorney for Cromartie and chief of the Capital Habeas Unit, Federal Defender for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said in a statement. "Mr. Cromartie has maintained that he did not shoot the victim and that matters because under Georgia law he could have received a sentence less than death. The only way to know for sure is to test the DNA, which is what we are asking the federal court to order.

"The victim’s daughter has repeatedly requested that Georgia officials test the DNA before an execution is carried out in her father’s name. Hopefully, the courts will recognize that halting Mr. Cromartie’s scheduled execution in order to allow time to test the DNA is the right cause of action for justice, is in the public interest, and in accordance with the wishes of the victim’s daughter.”

Elizabeth Legette, the daughter of Slysz, has requested that the Georgia Supreme Court require DNA testing.

Thomas County Superior Court filed an order setting the seven-day window in which the execution of Cromartie may occur. It begins at noon Wednesday and ends at noon on Nov. 6.

Cromartie was indicted for one count of malice murder, one count of aggravated assault, one count of aggravated battery, one count of armed robbery and four counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. Cromartie was convicted as charged in the indictment and sentenced to death.

Cromartie’s case was appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court. The court affirmed Cromartie’s convictions and death sentences on March 8, 1999. The U.S. Supreme Court denied Cromartie’s request to appeal on Nov. 1, 1999.

Cromartie filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in Butts County Superior Court on May 9, 2000. An evidentiary hearing was held on Aug. 12-14, 2008. On Feb. 9, 2012, the state habeas corpus court entered an order denying Cromartie state habeas relief.

Cromartie filed a motion for reconsideration based upon new testimony from Young, which the state habeas corpus court denied on Oct. 9, 2012. The state Supreme Court denied Cromartie’s appeal on Sept. 9, 2013.

Thereafter, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Cromartie’s request to appeal on April 21, 2014. Cromartie filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia on March 20, 2014. On March 31, 2017, the district court denied Cromartie federal habeas relief.

Cromartie filed a request to appeal in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which was denied on Jan. 3, 2018. Cromartie filed a motion for reconsideration in the 11th Circuit, which was denied March 26, 2018.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied Cromartie’s request to appeal on Dec. 3, 2018. On Dec. 27, 2018, after 21 years in prison, Cromartie sought post-conviction DNA testing. On Sept. 16, following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied Cromartie’s extraordinary motion for new trial.

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