With a new execution date set for her son, the mother of Ray “Jeff” Cromartie is still calling for a new DNA test she believes will exonerate her son.
Estelle Barrau’s first son was murdered when he was 4. Now her seventh son is set to be executed Nov. 13 for his part in a 1994 South Georgia convenience store robbery that left a 50-year-old clerk dead.
Cromartie’s execution would be Georgia’s third execution in 2019 and its 74th since 1976, when the U.S. Supreme Court reinstituted capital punishment.
“If my heart could just stop hurting. I can’t handle it. But how you going to stop your heart from hurting when it’s your baby that they about to put to sleep,” Barrau, 73, told WTOC.
Barrau said her son rejected a plea deal 20 years ago, a deal that could have set him free by now.
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 during a robbery attempt in April 1994.
The question of who pulled the trigger at Junior Food Store in Thomasville, near the Florida border, has been disputed for 25 years. Cromartie says it was co-defendant Corey Clark. Clark testified it was Cromartie.
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Clark and getaway driver Thad Lucas testified for the state, avoiding the death penalty and murder charges. They have been free from prison since the early 2000s.
"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.
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