Crawford jury: GUILTY
"We the jury find the defendant, Antonio Dale Crawford, guilty of the willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing of Sarah Crawford in the commission of the abduction with the intent to defile Sarah Crawford and in the commission of the rape of Sarah Crawford."
And thus did Charlottesville's first capital murder case in nearly a decade draw to a close today at 12:45pm, as the jury returned guilty verdicts on six of the seven counts against the Manassas man charged in late 2004 with killing his wife and leaving her body in a Charlottesville motel room.
Nobody said a word as Judge Edward Hogshire read the verdicts, although a slight blush seemed to fill the face of the 48-year-old defendant, who had claimed that his wife died trying to wrestle a gun away from him as he was attempting to take his own life. Following the verdict, Sarah Crawford's parents, Irene and John Powers, wiped tears away and hugged assistant Commonwealth's Attorneys Jon Zug and Joe Platania, then greeted and hugged members of a group of detectives from Jacksonville, Florida, where Crawford was apprended, and from Charlottesville, where Sarah's body was found.
Parties to the case declined to speak with the press pending the sentencing, which will take place later this afternoon. However, in what might have seemed like a good thing for the defense, the lone "not guilty" verdict– on the charge of using a firearm in the commission of a rape– could possibly be seen as an endorsement of the prosecution's most contentious theory: that Crawford performed sexual acts on a corpse.
In addition to the capital murder conviction, Crawford was found guilty of rape, abduction with intent to defile, grand larcency (for stealing her car), and the use of a firearm in the commission of both a murder and an abduction.