A man convicted of fatal shooting at a store clerk 25 years ago as part of his conspiracy to steal beer was shot dead in Georgia Wednesday night despite last week's plea by his lawyers to perform DNA tests that they claim will kill him. release the imprisoned prisoner.
Ray Effeferson Cromarty, 52, who insisted he was not killing the officer, was pronounced dead at 10:59 p.m. after injection of pentobarbital at Jackson State Prison. He did not make a final statement – instead asked for a prayer before the injection.
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A media witness said that Chromarty had not fought and said anything while being punished with gourmets. The Associated Press reported that it took a great deal of deep breaths before closing its eyes and waiting another five minutes after drug administration. At one point, he allegedly formed his mouth in "O" and breathed heavily.
Cromarty was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Richard Slice in April 1994 at a convenience store in Thomasville, near the Georgia-Florida line. The state said Chromarty also shot and severely wounded another convenience store employee a few days before the shooting.
The execution came Wednesday after the US Supreme Court, without justification, rejected both appeals by inmate lawyers. Defense lawyers also recently asked state and federal courts to allow DNA testing of evidence gathered from the shootings that they say could prove he was not the shooter. The State contends that the DNA evidence sought cannot prove his innocence.
Lawyer John Nolan called the denial of DNA tests "so sad and frankly outrageous" in a statement after the execution. "Nowadays, when DNA testing is routine, it is shocking that Georgia has decided to end this man's life without allowing us, his lawyers, access to materials to perform these simple tests," Nolan said.
Evidence at the trial showed that Cromarty borrowed a gun from his cousin on April 7, 1994, entered Madison Dale Street that night and shot Officer Dan Wilson in the face, seriously injuring him. Wilson could not describe his attacker and surveillance camera footage was not clear enough to finally identify the shooter.
A few days later on April 10, Chromarty and Corey Clark asked Tadeusz Lucas to drive them to another store to steal a beer, testimony showed. Lucas parked, and the other two entered the Junior grocery store. Chromarti shot Slice twice in the head, prosecutors said. Unable to open the cash register, Cromarty and Clark fled after Cromarty grabbed two 12-packs of beer. In both cases, Cromarty told others he shot the officers, evidence showed.
Lucas and Clark testified against Cromarty at a September 1997 trial that ended in his death sentence. Each of Lucas and Clark pleaded guilty to minor charges, served prison terms and were acquitted.
Chromarti's lawyers requested DNA evidence, including testing of the firearms sheets from the two shootings, clothing found at the first shooting range, and samples of clothing from Slitz. A DNA test could prove that Komarti was not a shooter, his lawyers argue. If he had not been a shooter, he could not have been guilty of malicious mischief, a conviction for which he was sentenced to death, their court records said.
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They also issued three statements from Slice's daughter, Elizabeth Leggett, who support DNA testing. Last Tuesday, she repeated her "serious questions" about Chromarti's guilt and criticized civil servants for failing to respond to her calls for testing. She said: "This leads me to the conclusion that the rights of the victim extend only to those who support what the state obviously wants in the event of the death penalty – the execution of the offender or the alleged offender."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.