ABERDEEN – A new hearing in Charles Ray Crawford’s death-sentence appeal was canceled Monday apparently after issues arose with his legal counsel.
Crawford was due for what’s called an evidentiary hearing to consider his conviction after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals sent it back to the U.S. District of Northern Mississippi.
The New Orleans appeals court vacated his death sentence, saying Crawford did not have legal counsel during a psychiatric evaluation in an unrelated case. He claimed it was improperly used against him in his capital murder trial.
Crawford was sentenced to death in August 1994 for the murder of Kristy Ray in Tippah County.
In 2009, the three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit ruled his mental state should be fully aired because it could be an issue in the capital trial. In an earlier assault case, Crawford said he intended to present an insanity defense.
Crawford, now 45, was sentenced to death in the murder and rape of Ray, a Northeast Mississippi Community College student.
After all his state appeals were denied, his case moved to federal court in April 2004.
U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock canceled his hearing set for today in Aberdeen to hear arguments about the issue.
Filed Friday, a document handwritten by Crawford asks to be allowed to act as his own “quasi co-counsel.” He also says that briefs to the court by his counsel, Ken Coghlan of Tupelo, “are inadequate” and do not argue the issues of the case.
He’s also critical of co-counsel, Christi R. McCoy of Oxford, whom he claims he’s never seen or spoken to during the time she’s represented him.
McCoy declined to comment. Coghlan could not be reached for comment.
Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal