FORSYTH, Ga. – Condemned murderer Ray Jefferson Cromartie is scheduled for execution by lethal injection at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, October 30 at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.
Cromartie was sentenced to death in 1997 for the murder of Richard A. Slysz.
Media witnesses for the execution are Kate Brumback, Associated Press – Atlanta Bureau, Joshua Sharpe, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Desiree Carver, Valdosta Daily Times, Asia Wilson, WALB News 10, and Robert Preston Junior, Broadcast South/DouglasNow.com.
There have been 73 men and one woman executed in Georgia since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. If executed, Cromartie will be the 52nd inmate put to death by lethal injection. There are presently 46 men and one woman under death sentence in Georgia.
The Georgia Diagnostic & Classification Prison is located 45 minutes south of Atlanta off Interstate 75. From Atlanta, take exit 201 (Ga. Hwy. 36), turn left over the bridge and go approximately ¼ mile. The entrance to the prison is on the left.
UPDATE: October 29, 2019
For Immediate Release
Parole Board Denies Request for Stay and Denies Commutation for Ray Jefferson Cromartie
The State Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied a request to stay the scheduled execution of Ray Jefferson Cromartie.
In doing so, the Board has also denied clemency in the case. The request to stay the execution came from Cromartie’s representatives today.
Representatives for Cromartie asked the Board to stay the execution to allow time for federal courts to determine whether Cromartie’s request for DNA testing of evidence in the criminal case resulting in his conviction could move forward. The Board’s authority does not include issuing a stay for this purpose.
The Board has authority to grant a stay of up to 90-days for it to further examine information to determine whether to commute a death sentence. Cromartie did not request a commutation of his death sentence.
Even though Cromartie did not request his sentence be commuted, the Board reviewed its comprehensive case file on him and all information received at today’s meeting and determined not to grant clemency by commuting the death sentence.
Cromartie is scheduled to be executed today, October 30, 2019, at 7 p.m. at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson. The Superior Court of Thomas County ordered the execution of Cromartie for the 1994 murder of Richard Slysz.
Ray Jefferson Cromartie was convicted of malice murder, armed robbery, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, and four counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. The jury recommended a death sentence for the murder, finding the following statutory aggravating circumstances: the murder was committed while the defendant was engaged in the commission of an armed robbery; the murder was committed for the purpose of receiving money or any other thing of monetary value; and the murder was outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman in that it involved depravity of mind and an aggravated battery to the victim before death.
The evidence adduced at trial shows that Cromartie borrowed a .25 caliber pistol from his cousin Gary Young on April 7, 1994. At about 10:15 p.m. on April 7, Cromartie entered the Madison Street Deli in Thomasville and shot the clerk, Dan Wilson, in the face.
Cromartie left after unsuccessfully trying to open the cash register. The tape from the store video camera, while too indistinct to conclusively identify Cromartie, captured a man fitting Cromartie’s general description enter the store and walk behind the counter toward the area where the clerk was washing pans.
There is the sound of a shot and the man leaves after trying to open the cash register. Wilson survived despite a severed carotid artery. The following day, Cromartie asked Gary Young and Carnell Cooksey if they saw the news. He told Young that he shot the clerk at the Madison Street Deli while he was in the back washing dishes.
Cromartie also asked Cooksey if he was “down with the 187,” which Cooksey testified meant robbery. Cromartie stated that there was a Junior Food Store with “one clerk in the store and they didn’t have no camera.”
In the early morning hours of April 10, 1994, Cromartie and Corey Clark asked Thaddeus Lucas if he would drive them to the store so they could steal beer.
As they were driving, Cromartie directed Lucas to bypass the closest open store and drive to the Junior Food Store. He told Lucas to park on a nearby street and wait.
When Cromartie and Clark entered the store, Cromartie shot clerk Richard Slysz twice in the head. The first shot which entered below Slysz’s right eye would not have caused Slysz to immediately lose consciousness before he was hit by Cromartie’s second shot directed at Slysz’s left temple. Although Slysz died shortly thereafter, neither wound caused an immediate death.
Cromartie and Clark then tried to open the cash register but were unsuccessful. Cromartie instead grabbed two 12-packs of Budweiser beer and the men fled.
A convenience store clerk across the street heard the shots and observed two men fitting the general description of Cromartie and Clark run from the store; Cromartie was carrying the beer.
While the men were fleeing one of the 12-packs broke open and spilled beer cans onto the ground. A passing motorist saw the two men run from the store and appear to drop something.
Cooksey testified that when Cromartie and his accomplices returned to the Cherokee Apartments they had a muddy case of Budweiser beer and Cromartie boasted about shooting the clerk twice.
Plaster casts of shoe prints in the muddy field next to the spilled cans of beer were similar to the shoes Cromartie was wearing when he was arrested three days later.
Cromartie’s left thumb print was found on a torn piece of Budweiser 12-pack carton near the shoe prints. The police recovered the .25 caliber pistol that Cromartie had borrowed from Gary Young, and a firearms expert determined that this gun fired the bullets that wounded Wilson and killed Slysz.
Cromartie’s accomplices, Lucas and Clark, testified for the State at Cromartie’s trial.
In Georgia, the Parole Board has the sole constitutional authority to grant clemency and commute, or reduce a death
sentence to life with the possibility of parole or to life without the possibility of parole. The Board also has the authority to issue a stay to consider the case further.