Ray Jefferson Cromartie

THOMASVILLE — As her son, Ray Jefferson Cromartie, is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at the Georgia Classification and Diagnostic Prison, Estelle Barrau is pleading for his execution to be averted.

Cromartie was convicted in 1997 and sentenced to death for the 1994 shooting death of convenience store clerk Richard Slysz. His appeals for a new trial have been denied at several levels.

“I don’t want my son to die,” she said. “This is a mother crying out for my son.”

Last week the Supreme Court of Georgia issued a stay of execution just hours before it was supposed to take place. The stay was lifted two days later, and the Georgia Department of Corrections set a new execution date.

“I don’t feel. I’m numb,” Barrau said in a recent telephone conversation. “I feel as if people don’t even know I exist. I’m devastated. I don’t know if I’m coming or going. Does anybody care what I feel as a mother?”

Cromartie’s attorneys have asked for DNA testing in the case, but their motions have been denied. The judge who presided over the original trial denied a motion for a new trial and DNA testing in September.

“I’m begging with everything I have,” she said. “All I’m asking is give the DNA test so I don’t lose my son.”

Barrau also said she told her son not to take a plea deal in the case.

“He asked me, ‘momma, do you want me to take a plea deal for something I didn’t do?’” Barrau recalled. “I said, ‘don’t take a plea deal.’

“I wish I hadn’t ever said that.”

Cromartie’s attorneys turned down a clemency hearing in the case. Granting clemency could have commuted the death sentence into a sentence of life in prison. Since Cromartie is maintaining his innocence in the case, he and his attorneys said they could not in good faith argue for the sentenced to be reduced to life.

She also is convinced of his innocence in the case.

“My son did not kill nobody,” she said. “I believe in my son. If he had done anything, he would tell you.”

The state parole board turned down a stay of execution request the day for the original date of execution. No request to have the death sentence commuted was made on Cromartie’s behalf.

Cromartie has made his request for his last meal.

“I love him and don’t want him to die,” Barrau said. “I know I love my son and I don’t want him to die.”

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