Prosecution, defense rest in Crawford case
Less than 15 minutes into day four of the capital murder trial of Anthony Dale Crawford, the Commonwealth rested its case following admission of one last piece of evidence: an affadavit filed by Sarah Louise Crawford in support of a November 1, 2004 protective order she sought against her estranged husband.
After the jury had reviewed the affadavit and left the courtroom, defense attorney Rhonda Quagliana filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing before Judge Edward Hogshire that the Commonwealth had failed to meet its burden of proof of the "nexus" of crimes required to convict Crawford of capital murder– in other words, that he had either abducted or raped Sarah Crawford as part of the same crime as killing her.
Referring again, as she had several times in the trial, to a three-hour call placed by Ms. Crawford to her estranged husband on November 18, 2004, the night before her disappearance, Quagliana argued there was no way to know that the shooting victim had not gone with him willingly.
"The Commonwealth has proven neither a first-degree premediated murder, nor an abduction with intent to defile," Quagliana said, asking Judge Hogshire to dismiss all charges against Mr. Crawford.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Joe Platania, however, claimed there was ample evidence. "She's found nude and posed," said Platania. "There's no evidence that she was back together with him."
Hogshire denied the defense motion, and after the jury returned, the defense called just two witnesses, both maintenance workers at Mr. Crawford's apartment complex.
Grace Slayton testified that she had purchased a car owned by Mr. Crawford for her daughter in early November 2004, and that around the same time she had seen a gun in his apartment when he discussed selling the gun to her supervisor, Larry Lanza.
Lanza confirmed that he had considered purchasing the .38 caliber silver Smith & Wesson revolver, but he said that the transaction was never completed because he felt Mr. Crawford wanted too much money. Mr. Crawford, he said, approached him one other time about purchasing the gun sometime in the week or weeks prior to Ms. Crawford's disappearance and death.
Under cross examination by Platania, Slayton also testified that there is a McDonald's restaurant approximately three blocks from Mr. Crawford's apartment in Manassas. In a videotaped interview made following his arrest in Florida and shown in court yesterday afternoon, Crawford told Jacksonville Police that he had accidentally shot his wife in a McDonald's parking lot before checking in to the Quality Inn in Charlottesville. Her body was found two and a half days later.
Platania hypothesized that the shooting took place soon after Sarah purchased fuel in Manassas at approximately 8:30 on Friday morning, November 19, 2004. Crawford checked into the Charlottesville Quality Inn approximately three hours later.
This afternoon, Platania says, the Commonwealth and the Defense will present closing arguments, and the jury will begin deliberating.
Read our prior dispatch on the case.