Cromartie

Ray Jefferson Cromartie

ATLANTA  — Lawyers for a Georgia man scheduled to be executed next week say he has decided not to file for clemency.

Ray Jefferson Cromartie is to be put to death Oct. 30. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to die for the April 1994 slaying of Thomasville convenience store clerk Richard Slysz.

Shawn Nolan, an attorney for Cromartie, said in an emailed statement Wednesday that filing a clemency petition would require Cromartie to ask for a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. And since Cromartie maintains he's innocent, he can't do that in good faith.

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles is the only authority in Georgia that can commute a death sentence. The board can reduce the sentence to life or life without the possibility of parole, according to its website. The board typically holds a meeting to consider a clemency application filed by a condemned inmate the day before an execution is scheduled to be carried out.

Brad Shealy, district attorney for the Southern Judicial Circuit, and Melven Johnson, the now-retired Thomasville Police detective who was the lead investigator on the case, said they planned to attend the hearing to argue against clemency for Cromartie. 

Mark Mitchell, now judge of Thomas County State and Thomasville Municipal courts, was an assistant district attorney and prosecutor in the 1997 Cromartie trial.

“Considering the aggravating circumstances that two victims were shot during the course of armed robberies and that the murder victim was shot from behind and given no chance, the verdict of the jury in passing the death sentence was both fair and just,” Mitchell said.

A judge last month denied Cromartie's request to allow DNA testing he says could prove his innocence. He has asked the state Supreme Court to intervene.

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