Despite his argument that his defense attorney was incompetent and ineffective, the Georgia Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of Darrell Antonio Crowder, who was sentenced to life for the 2008 murder of his estranged wife.
Crowder has been battling with the court system for several years. Initially, he took a plea deal in 2009, admitting to shooting 43-year-old Catcilia Crowder in 2008. Crowder admitted in front of Newton County Superior Court Judge Eugene Benton that he shot his estranged wife to death in her Newton County home after leaving his post office distribution job in Atlanta and breaking down her door while their child slept in the home. He was sentenced to life plus five years, with a requirement that he serve at least 30 years before becoming eligible for parole.
In 2010, Crowder pleaded ineffective assistance of counsel, saying his attorney misinformed him about his eligibility for parole and told him he would not have to serve the full 30 years before his eligibility kicked in. Additionally, he told Benton that, had he known about the parole condition, he would have insisted on a trial.
Benton denied his request. However Benton’s ruling was overturned by the Georgia Supreme Court, and he was granted a trial that began in March.
Crowder fared no better with a jury. He was convicted and sentenced to life plus 35 years, 30 years more than he received when he first pleaded guilty in 2009.
The motion filed for the most recent request to the Supreme Court stated that Crowder was entitled to a new trial because "the jury verdict is contrary to the evidence, the jury verdict is contrary to the substantial weight of the evidence, the verdict and sentence is contrary to law, and the state failed to prove guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
However the Supreme Court unanimously upheld Crowder’s murder conviction and life sentence, with Justice Robert Benham stating that Crowder "failed to show that his trial counsel rendered constitutionally ineffective assistance," and the evidence at trial "was sufficient to authorize a rational trier of fact to find (Crowder) guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes for which he was convicted."
Crowder is currently serving his sentence for murder, cruelty to children (the couple’s daughter and a friend were in the house at the time of the murder), burglary and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He is being held in Helena, Ga., at Telfair State Prison.