A Black Georgia man convicted of shooting and killing a store clerk in a robbery 25 years ago was executed late Wednesday despite repeated requests from the victim’s daughter, among others, to have evidence in the case DNA tested.
Shawn Nolan, Ray Cromartie’s attorney, said in a statement released publicly Wednesday the testing would have proved his client was not the shooter in the death of Richard Slysz in April of 1994.
Nolan called the state’s decision to put Cromartie to death “so sad and frankly outrageous.”
“In this day and age, where DNA testing is routine, it is shocking that Georgia decided to end this man’s life without allowing us, his attorneys, access to the materials to do these simple tests,” Nolan said.
He added that the victim’s daughter, Elizabeth Legette repeatedly asked that the state conduct the testing.
“The people of Georgia, and those in this country who believe in fairness, justice and compassion, deserve better,” Nolan said.
After several failed attempts in lower courts to force prosecutors’ hands in getting the DNA testing, Cromartie’s legal team submitted a last-ditch motion for a stay of Cromartie’s execution just hours before it was scheduled.
In that motion, attorneys said Cromartie was convicted in the deadly robbery when his co-defendant Corey Clark; the getaway driver, Thaddeus Lucas; and two associates claimed Cromartie admitted to the shooting.
“Mr. Cromartie, however, has always maintained that he did not shoot Mr. Slysz,” attorney Loren Stewart said in the motion.
“After years of silence concerning the identity of the shooter, Thaddeus Lucas has now come forward and attested in a sworn affidavit that Corey Clark admitted committing the shooting.” Lucas, who is Cromartie’s half-brother, released his new affidavit Monday, Nov. 11.
Cromartie sought to reopen the judgment based on the new evidence, but lower courts denied the request because he “had not been diligent in obtaining the new evidence.”
“Mr. Cromartie has alleged that prior counsel provided ineffective assistance,” Stewart said in the motion.
The legal document also included a letter from Legette to the Supreme Court of Georgia Oct. 16.
“I have read a lot about this case and I believe that there are serious questions about what happened the night my father was murdered and whether Ray Cromartie actually killed him,” Legette said in the letter.
She said she contacted prosecutors this summer requesting DNA testing in the case.
“They never responded to me, but I understand that they opposed the testing,” she said.
The woman continued to press for the testing and to oppose Cromartie’s execution.
“This is wrong, and I hope that you will take action to make sure that the testing happens,” she said.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied the request without explanation.
“The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice [Clarence] Thomas and by him referred to this Court is denied,” the court stated in its decision Wednesday.