A judge has issued a new execution order for Ray “Jeff” Cromartie, whose scheduled death by lethal injection was halted Wednesday by the Georgia Supreme Court.
Per the new order by Thomas County Judge Frank Horkan, the execution is scheduled for Nov. 13. Cromartie was sentenced to death for the 1994 murder of a South Georgia store clerk but has maintained his innocence.
The new order was necessary because the high court granted a provisional stay hours before Cromartie was to die Wednesday night. The stay focused on whether the first execution order was properly filed in Thomas County Superior Court while the state Supreme Court had jurisdiction over the case. The stay was lifted after the state and Cromartie’s attorneys agreed the first order was invalid.
Cromartie, 52, has been hoping for a court to order new DNA testing, which he said could prove it was actually his accomplice who killed store clerk Richard Slysz, 50, during a robbery attempt in April 1994.
"The State’s rush to execute Mr. Cromartie without DNA testing is tragic for him, and should be troubling for us all," said Shawn Nolan, one of Cromartie's attorneys.
The Georgia Supreme Court has shot down Cromartie’s appeal for the testing even though the victim’s daughter has spoken out in favor of the measure.
The question of who pulled the trigger at Junior Food Store in Thomasville, near the Florida border, has been in dispute for 25 years. Cromartie says it was co-defendant Corey Clark. Clark testified it was Cromartie.
Clark and getaway driver Thad Lucas both testified for the state, avoiding the death penalty and murder charges. They have been free from prison since the early 2000s.
Clark, who has been wanted for an alleged parole violation since 2015, couldn’t be reached for comment. Lucas said last week he still wasn’t sure who the shooter was because he couldn’t see what happened from the car.
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