Crawford can challenge execution drug


Special to the Chickasaw Journal

JACKSON – A Mississippi death row inmate will get to challenge the state’s use of an execution drug that’s been blamed for problems in other states.

The Mississippi Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision Thursday, said Charles Ray Crawford can question the use of midazolam in state court.

Lawyers for Crawford say the sedative won’t make an inmate unconscious, meaning he could feel pain as executioners administer a second drug to paralyze him and a third drug to stop his heart.

Lawyers for an inmate in Alabama said his movements during an execution last week proved he was never properly anesthetized.

Mississippi has not executed anyone since 2012. The state Supreme Court has avoided setting execution dates during challenges to execution methods.

Crawford was charged and convicted of rape by a Chickasaw County jury and sentenced for 46-years in August 1993.

Crawford was also charged and convicted of aggravated assault in Lafayette County in May 1993 and burglary of a residence in Lafayette County in April 1994.

The Mississippi Supreme Court denied a prosecutor’s motion to throw out Crawford’s appeal of his 1994 rape conviction.

Crawford, 49, is on death row for the 1992 slaying of Kristy Ray in the Chalybeate community in Tippah County.

In his appeal, Crawford says he received ineffective counsel to defend himself against the rape charges, which were used by prosecutors to seek the death penalty. Few details of the rape conviction are discussed in earlier briefs in the death penalty case.

The attorney general’s office argued in requesting the dismissal that Crawford got a fair trial and that if there was any error, it was Crawford’s for waiting 20 years to file an appeal.

The Supreme Court denied the motion Thursday without comment.

Crawford was arrested in 1992 and charged with rape and aggravated assault. While free on bond, he was arrested on murder charges in the death of a young woman. He was convicted of rape in 1993 and sentenced to 66 years in prison. He was then found guilty of murder in 1994 and sentenced to death. Prosecutors had argued for the death penalty, saying it was justified because Crawford’s past as a rapist constituted an aggravated factor and called for the harshest of punishments.

Crawford’s lawyer has argued there were numerous errors in Crawford’s rape trial including poor performance by the defense, prosecutorial misconduct, and questionable rulings and jury instructions from the trial judge.

Crawford’s change of venue on the original charge saw his trial conducted in Chickasaw County.

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