Death row inmate to be executed in hours for shooting convenience store worker in head

Prison officials in Georgia are preparing to execute a man who was convicted of shooting dead a convenience store worker 25 years ago.

Ray Jefferson Cromartie, 52, is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 7pm EST (12am UK time) at Jackson’s Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison for the killing of Richard Slysz.

On 10 April 1994, Cromartie, accompanied by two friends, went to a food store in Thomasville, Georgia, to steal beer. Upon entering the store, Cromartie shot Slysz twice in the head, killing him, prosecutors said.

Three days earlier, Cromartie had borrowed a handgun from his cousin, entered a local delicatessen and shot store worker Dan Wilson in the face, seriously injuring him.

Despite insisting he did not shoot either of the two workers, he was sentenced to death in September 1997. His accomplices each pleaded guilty to lesser charges, served prison time and were later released.

Cromartie’s lawyers are seeking DNA testing on evidence, including shell casings from both shootings; clothing found near the first shooting site; a package of cigarettes found near Slysz’s body; and clothing samples from Slysz and from other people they say are potential shooters.

The DNA testing could prove Cromartie was not the shooter, his lawyers argue.

Courts have, so far, rejected the requests. A judge last month found that it was unlikely the testing would lead to a different verdict.

Cromartie was scheduled to be executed on 30 October, but proceedings were halted because an appeal was still pending before Georgia’s Supreme Court. On 1 November, the state secured a new execution order, setting it for Wednesday.

He will be the third person executed in Georgia this year. The state says it uses the sedative pentobarbital for lethal injections.

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