Ray Cromartie, Georgia


November 13, 2019

Ray Jefferson Cromartie has been executed by the state of Georgia on Wednesday, November 13, 2019. Ray was pronounced dead at 10:59 pm local time, at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia. His execution was delayed several hours due to appeals. He was 52 years of age. Ray was convicted of the murder 50-year-old Richard Slysz on April 10, 1994, in Thomasville, Georgia. Ray spent the last 22 years of his life on death row in Georgia.

While pregnant with him, Ray’s mother attempted to abort him, and she drank alcohol throughout the pregnancy. Growing up, Ray was neglected, as well as, verbally, emotionally, and physically abused. Ray also grew up in poverty and had frequent changes in living arrangements. Ray has a family and personal history of substance abuse.

Gary Young lent his cousin, Ray Cromartie, his pistol, at Cromartie’s request, on April 7, 1994. Later that night, video surveillance showed a man fitting Cromartie’s general description entering Madison Street Deli and shooting the clerk, Dan Wilson, in the face. The man then attempted, but was unable, to open the cash register. Dan survived the gunshot, which severed his carotid artery. The following day, Cromartie talked with some friends about the robbery and Cromartie mentioned that he knew of a store that did not have a camera.


On April 10, 1994, Cromartie and friend, Corey Clark asked another friend, Thaddeus Lucas, to drive them to a store to steal some beer. Cromartie had Lucas not stop at the closest open store, but continue driving to the store he had previously mentioned that did not have a camera. Cromartie had Lucas park on a nearby street and wait.


Cromartie and Clark entered the store, which had only one clerk, Richard Slysz. Cromartie shot Richard twice in the head. Neither shot killed him instantly, although he died a short time later. Cromartie attempted to open the cash register but was unsuccessful. Cromartie grabbed some Budweiser beer and fled the scene.


While running back to the car, a nearby convince store clerk saw two men fitting the description of Cromartie and Clark running from the store where a shot was heard. While running, as also witnessed by the clerk, one of the beer cases broke open. A friend testified that when Cromartie and Clark returned to the apartment, they had a muddy case of Budweiser beer.


A police investigation revealed that the injuries to Dan and Richard came from the same weapon that Cromartie had borrowed from his cousin. Witnesses also testified that Cromartie had boasted about killing the clerk. Police were also able to obtain plaster casts of shoe prints found in a muddy field, next to spilled beer cans. The plasters were similar to the shoes Cromartie was wearing when he was arrested three days after the crime.


At the time of Melanie’s murder, Hall was out on bail for allegedly shooting 28-year-old Arturo Diaz in the back on April 10, 2002. That crime was classified as a hate crime based on Arturo’s sexual orientation.


Cromartie was convicted and sentenced to death. Clark and Lucas each pled guilt to lesser charges and testified against Cromartie at his trial. Clark and Lucas were given prison sentences and have since been released.


Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Richard Slysz. Please pray for peace and healing for Dan Wilson. Please pray for strength for the family of Ray Cromartie.


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