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Posted: June 27, 2010 12:01 a.m.

Judge denies motion to withdraw Crowder guilty plea

Courtesy of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison/

Darrell Antonio Crowder

A request made by convicted murderer Darrell Antonio Crowder to withdraw his guilty plea in the murder of his estranged wife, was denied by Newton County Superior Court Judge Eugene Benton.

Crowder initially pleaded guilty in December 2009 but said he did so under pressure from his attorney Garland Benny Cook, Jr., who he alleged told him that if he took a plea he could "probably get out in 15 years or so." He also testified that Cook did not come up with a defense for him.

Cook admitted he was not looking forward to going to trial on the case, saying "no lawyer likes to try a case he has no possibility of winning… Mr. Crowder left a path of evidence a mile long and 30 miles wide behind him. The only thing he could ever tell me is he didn’t do it."

Crowder admitted to Assistant District Attorney Melanie Bell that he did tell the court he was both satisfied with his attorney and that he was guilty of the murder of his estranged wife, 43-year-old Catcilia, but that he had since changed his opinion.

After several months of deliberation, Benton denied Crowder’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea, saying that it was his belief that Crowder’s plea was not a result of ineffective assistance of counsel.

"This court finds the defense attorney was prepared and gave appropriate advice to his client based on all of the circumstances of the case," reads the order.

"The court finds the defendant [Crowder] was not a credible witness in light of his testimony when he entered his plea of guilty," the order continues. "A review of the guilty plea shows the defendant admitted his guilt and said no one made any promises or threats against him. The defendant also stated he knew all of his rights prior to the entry of the plea."

Crowder was transferred to the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson earlier this month to begin serving his life sentence for murder.

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