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Georgia executes man convicted of killing a convenience store clerk

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Nov. 14 (UPI) — The state of Georgia has executed a death row inmate convicted of the 1994 killing of a convenience store clerk, according to officials.

Ray Jefferson Cromartie was executed by lethal injection Wednesday at 10:59 p.m. at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, the state’s Department of Corrections said in a statement.

“Cromartie accepted a final prayer and did not record a final statement,” the department said.

Cromartie, 52, was sentenced to death in 1997 for killing Richard A. Slysz while robbing a Junior Food Store in Thomasville, near the Georgia-Florida border.

According to Georgia’s Office of the Attorney General, Cromartie shot Slysz twice in the head, the first shot entering below his right eye and the second shot directed toward his left temple.

“Although Slysz died shortly thereafter, neither wound caused an immediate death,” the Office of the Attorney General said.

Days before Slysz’s death, Cromarite also shot Dan Wilson in the face while attempting to rob the Madison Street Deli in Thomasville. Wilson survived the shooting despite a severed carotid artery.

Cromartie was convicted by the Superior Court of Thomas County on one count of malice murder, one count of aggravated assault, one count of aggravated battery, one count of armed robbery and four counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

Cromartie said he was innocent, claiming he wasn’t the one who shot Slysz and in October he filed a request for a stay of execution with the State Board of Pardons and Paroles to allow time for federal courts to determine whether his previous request for DNA testing could advance.

His defense attorney, Shawn Nolan, argued DNA testing could provide “a reliable answer” to whether Cromartie was the shooter in Slysz’s death.

However, the state said it would not issue Cromartie’s request.

In a statement, Cromartie’s counsel called their client’s execution “sad and frankly outrageous.”

“In this day and age where DNA testing is routine, it is shocking that Georgia decided to end this man’s life without allowing us, his attorneys, access to the materials to do these simple tests,” his counsel said.

Cromartie had applied for post-conviction DNA testing on Dec. 27 of last year but his request was rejected in September following an evidentiary hearing.

Georgia has executed 74 men and one woman since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Cromartie was its 52nd inmate executed by lethal injection.

Presently, there are 44 men and one woman sentenced to death in the state, the Georgia Department of Corrections said.

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