By Hank Wiesner/Southern Sentinel
RIPLEY – A Pontotoc man accused of fatally shooting Tippah Deputy DeWayne Crenshaw just over two years ago faces an May 6 trial date, District Attorney Ben Creekmore said this week.
The district attorney said the location of the trial and other logistical questions remain to be worked out. He hopes some of those questions will be answered later this month.
Franklin Fitzpatrick, then 26, will be tried for capital murder during a one- week special court setting. He has entered a plea of not guilty, and has been held without bond since the shooting. Judge Andrew Howorth will preside over the trial.
Fitzpatrick is represented by the Office of Capital Defense and attorney Kelsey Rushing, and also by attorney Josh Turner of Oxford.
Deputy Crenshaw was fatally shot in the line of duty on a cold, dry night about 4 a.m. Friday, Dec. 3, 2010, while responding to a pre-dawn disturbance call in a rural area at 4860 County Road 500.
Fitzpatrick was arrested following the predawn shooting, and indicted in 2011 for capital murder in Crenshaw’s death.
Following the shooting, the Legislature passed what’s known as the DeWayne Crenshaw bill. It outlaws chemicals used in bath salts that can be used to get high.
Crenshaw was a retired U. S. Army Master Sergeant who served as a Ranger. He earned two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star in two tours of Vietnam.
Due to his slight stature, he also worked as a “tunnel rat” in that war. He went into enemy passageways deep underground, armed with little more than a flashlight and a gun, mapping out the passageways and often taking on the enemy.
After retirement, he and his wife and son, Adam, lived in a remote portion of Alaska for a number of years.
The family later relocated to this area, and he went to work for the Tippah Sheriff’s Department as a part time deputy and jailor.
He wanted to become a full-time deputy, and to do that, had to become certified. He attended the basic officers training course at 57, managed 10-mile runs there in under an hour, and graduated among the top 10 of his class.
Recalled his widow, Jane Crenshaw: “DeWayne was a true child of God, but also a kidder with a great sense of humor. He often said that he was once six feet tall, but 500 parachute jumps had reduced him to his height of 5 feet 5 inches.”