Attorneys for a Thomasville man scheduled to be executed by lethal injection Wednesday evening have filed a new motion with what they call “new, reliable evidence” of his innocence.
Ray Jefferson Cromartie was convinced in 1997 and sentenced to death for the 1994 slaying of convenience store Richard Slysz. According to his attorneys, the new filing contains an affidavit from Cromartie’s co-defendant and half-brother, Thaddeus Lucas, in which Lucas claims Corey Clarke is the shooter. Clarke testified in the trial against Cromartie.
“Thaddeus Lucas’s disclosure that Corey Clarke confessed to him that he killed Richard Slysz is an extraordinary development,” Cromartie’s attorneys said in a release. "It demonstrates that Mr. Cromartie is not in fact guilty of the malice murder for which he stands convicted.”
Cromartie’s attorneys are filing a petition Tuesday with the U.S. Supreme Court asking that justices stop the execution and order DNA testing be completed. According to the attorneys, their petition will argue that the new evidence from Lucas supports Cromartie’s position that he was not the shooter, “and that DNA testing will prove that.”
“No court has ever heard or considered this new evidence of Ray Cromartie’s innocence,’ said Shawn Nolan, chief, Capital Habeas Unit, Federal Defender for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
“The state has denied his requests for DNA testing for years. Mr. Cromartie’s jury sentenced him to death based on their conclusion he was the shooter. If he was not the shooter, his death sentence is not valid and his execution must not proceed. Even the victim’s daughter has repeatedly asked the state to test the DNA before any execution is carried out.
“It would be a horrific miscarriage of justice to execute Ray Cromartie without full consideration of all the facts in his case, including the new evidence of his innocence,” Nolan continued.
According to the motion filed Friday in the U.S. District Court Middle District in Valdosta, Lucas signed a sworn statement November 6 stating he overheard Clark tell another man he was the one who shot Slsyz.
Cromartie originally was scheduled to be executed Wednesday, October 30 at 7 p.m. but the state Supreme Court issued a stay. That stay was lifted Friday, November 1, and the state Department of Corrections issued a new execution date.
Cromartie’s execution by lethal injection will take place at the Georgia Classification and Diagnostic Prison in Jackson.