In 1993, 48-year-old Charles Ray Crawford was convicted of rape. Today, he is sitting on death row in Mississippi for the murder of Kristy Ray in Tippah County, according to a news article at Gulflive.com. Crawford believes that he was given the death penalty in the murder case because of the 1993 rape conviction. Now, 20 years later, he is appealing the rape conviction based on ineffective counsel in the case.
Essentially, Crawford may not remain on death row if he can win his appeal of the rape conviction. He was charged with rape and aggravated assault in 1992, and while free on bond, arrested for murdering Kristy Ray. In 1993, he was convicted on the rape charges and sentenced to 66 years in prison. Shortly thereafter, Crawford was convicted of murdering Ray in 1994 and given the death penalty. Prosecutors in the murder case argued for the death penalty, maintaining that Crawford’s criminal history as a rapist was an aggravating factor that justified he be given the death penalty.
The prosecutor in the case filed a motion to throw out Crawford’s appeal, however the Mississippi Supreme Court denied the motion. The court gave no comment on why the motion was denied.
Crawford’s defense attorney in the appeal claims that his client’s defense lawyer at the time performed poorly, that there were questionable rulings, prosecutorial misconduct, and questionable jury instructions given by the trial judge.
Appealing a conviction does not always mean that an inmate will be freed from prison if the appeal is successful. In some cases, a successful appeal can mean the difference between life and death. Had Crawford not been convicted of rape prior to going on trial for murder, would he have been sentenced to death? Probably not. While spending life in prison is a horrible fate for most people, it is still preferable to the death penalty for many.
When someone is convicted of a crime, he or she may appeal the conviction or sentence if wrongly convicted, if errors were made in the criminal justice process, if the defense counsel was ineffective, etc. If you have been found guilty of a crime or sentenced in a way you feel is unfair, consult with a highly experienced Michigan criminal appeals attorney right away.