Ray Cromartie, Georgia

 

Updated: Monday, November 11, 2019

Ray Jefferson Cromartie is scheduled to be executed at 7 pm local time, on Wednesday, November 13, 2019, at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia. Fifty-two-year-old Ray is convicted of 50-year-old Richard Slysz on April 10, 1994, in Thomasville, Georgia. Ray has spent the last 22 years 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. Also, while running, as 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.

 

Cromartie has insisted upon his innocence. He 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.

 

Ray Cromartie was scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, October 30, 2019.  That execution was stayed because the execution warrant was entered by the trial court, while the Supreme Court had jurisdiction.  Prior to his October 30, execution date, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected a request to halt Ray's execution. Ray's attorneys requested the stay of execution in order to allow additional time to test DNA evidence in the case.  In its decision, the Board noted that it does not have the authority to issue a stay of execution for that reason.  The Board also denied clemency.  Ray did not asked for his sentence to be commuted, however the Board reviewed their case file and decided not to grant clemency by commuting Ray's sentence of death.  

 

Lawyers for Ray Cromartie have announced that Ray would not be seeking clemency ahead of his October 30, execution.  According to a statement from his attorney, asking for clemency would require Ray to request a sentence of life in prison, without the possibility of parole.  Ray has continually insisted that he is innocent of the crime for which he is convicted and cannot, in good faith, ask for a reduced a sentence.  In Georgia, clemency can only be granted by the state Board of Pardons and Paroles.

 

The Georgia Supreme Court has refused a request to halt the execution of Ray.  Ray was arguing that additional DNA testing on the murder weapon, testing which was unavailable at his initial trial, would prove that he did not commit the murder.  The Georgia Supreme Court has also refused to halt Ray's execution on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel during his initial trail.  Ray was arguing that his lawyers failed to present evidence that could have swayed the jury.

  

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. Please pray that if Ray is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason, that evidence will be presented prior to his execution. Pray that Richard may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.

 

  

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