By Brendan O’Brien
(Reuters) – The state of Georgia on Wednesday is scheduled to execute a man who was convicted of fatally shooting a convenience store clerk before stealing two 12-packs of beer with an accomplice more than 20 years ago.
Ray Cromartie, 52, is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. EST (0000 GMT) at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson for the killing of Richard Slysz in 1994.
On April 7 that year, Cromartie borrowed a gun from his cousin and went to a delicatessen in Thomasville, Georgia, and shot and wounded store clerk Dan Wilson in the face, court papers said.
Three days later, Cromartie and his friends Corey Clark and Thaddeus Lucas went to Junior Food Store in Thomasville to steal beer. When Cromartie and Clark entered the store, Cromartie shot Slysz twice in the head, killing him, prosecutors said.
The two men tried to open the cash register but were unsuccessful. Cromartie then took two packs of Budweiser beer and fled with Clark, according to court papers.
Cromartie was arrested three days later. During the trial, Clark and Lucas testified against him. Both men pleaded guilty to lesser charges, court papers showed. Cromartie has maintained his innocence, saying he did not fire the gun.
The Supreme Court of Georgia halted Cromartie’s execution two weeks ago to determine whether the execution order was properly filed. A circuit court judge issued a new execution order on Nov. 1.
On Tuesday, Cromartie filed a stay request with the U.S. Supreme Court so that more DNA testing could be conducted in the case.
“It is shocking and deeply troubling that Georgia has chosen to expend time, money and resources fighting DNA testing rather than releasing the evidence so that it can be tested before Ray Cromartie is executed,” Cromartie’s attorney, Shawn Nolan, said in a statement.
Cromartie’s attorneys also filed a motion in federal court on Monday, claiming that Lucas signed a statement saying he overheard Clark telling a friend that it was he and not Cromartie who killed Slysz.
Officials in the state’s attorney general office were not immediately available for comment.
Cromartie would be the 20th inmate in the United States and the third in Georgia to be executed in 2019, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Peter Cooney)