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Georgia Executes Man Convicted of Murdering Convenience Store Clerk to Steal Beer

Ray Cromartie, 52, who has long denied that he pulled the trigger in the killing, was executed by lethal injection at 10:59 p.m. EST at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, the state's department of corrections said.

Reuters

Updated:November 14, 2019, 11:56 AM IST
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Georgia Executes Man Convicted of Murdering Convenience Store Clerk to Steal Beer
Ray Cromartie, convicted of shooting and killing a convenience store clerk more than 20 years ago

The state of Georgia executed on Wednesday a man convicted of capital murder for the 1994 shooting death of a convenience store clerk during a bungled robbery in which he and two accomplices got away with a case of beer.

Ray Cromartie, 52, who has long denied that he pulled the trigger in the killing, was executed by lethal injection at 10:59 p.m. EST at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, the state's department of corrections said.

Cromartie maintained his innocence until the end. He did not make a final statement but accepted a final prayer, officials said.

He was sentenced to death in 1997 for the slaying of Richard Slysz, a cashier at the Junior Food Store held up at gunpoint and shot twice in the head in the town of Thomasville by Cromartie and another man, Corey Clark, on April 10, 1994.

The two robbers failed to get the store's cash register open but Cromartie grabbed two 12-packs of Budweiser beer and they fled the scene, according to court records.

Cromartie was arrested three days later. He was convicted largely on testimony from Clark and a second co-defendant, getaway driver Thaddeus Lucas, as well as two other associates, who claimed Cromartie admitted to shooting the clerk, according to court documents in the case.

Clark and Lucas pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

Cromartie's execution was carried out shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court denied an 11th-hour application for a stay based on new evidence that his lawyers said had come to light about the identity of the killer.

The appeal cited a sworn affidavit that defense lawyers obtained from Lucas earlier this month saying he had overheard Clark confess years ago to committing the shooting, not Cromartie.

The petition, in which Lucas claimed he belatedly came forward after reading about the case in the news and feeling "angry because the story is not the truth of what really happened," was rejected by the high court without comment.

The state's attorney general office said it would not comment on the case.

Cromartie's attorney, Shawn Nolan, decried the execution in a late-night statement.

"It is so sad and frankly outrageous that the state of Georgia executed Ray Cromartie tonight after repeatedly denying his requests for DNA testing that would have proven he did not kill Richard Slysz," Nolan said.

Cromartie became the 20th inmate in the United States and the third in Georgia to be executed in 2019, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

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