Court upholds Crawford murder conviction

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

Convicted murderer Charles Ray Crawford was denied an additional hearing Tuesday by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The three-judge panel affirmed the 2012 decision in Mississippi’s Northern District federal court.
Both courts said that while Crawford was deprived his Six Amendment right to counsel as it related to a psychiatric evaluation, the state presented enough evidence to the trial jury to uphold his conviction and sentence, even if the evaluation had not occurred.
“The constitutional error was harmless,” the appeals court wrote in its 18-page decision.
In 1993, Crawford was out on bond awaiting trial on charges of aggravated assault and rape, with a notice he planned to pursue an insanity defense.
Four days before his trial, 20-year-old Kristy Ray was abducted from her parents’ home in Chalybeate. After his family and attorney notified police that they feared another crime was being committed, Crawford was arrested and took authorities to her body.
Crawford later was tried and convicted on the original charges, despite his defense of insanity and sentenced to 66 years in prison.
During his trial for Ray’s death, psychiatrists differed on Crawford’s mental condition. Ultimately he was convicted and sentenced to death.
His appeals were rejected on the state and federal district court levels, but he was granted the right to appeal to the 5th Circuit to claim he was subject to a 1993 psychiatric evaluation without benefit of counsel.
When the case went back to the Northern District of Mississippi, the court agreed his right to counsel was violated but it was constitutionally harmless. He appealed that decision to the 5th Circuit, which issued its new decision Tuesday.
Counsel for Crawford could not be contacted for comment on additional appeal plans.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com