Sarah Crawford, the person, emerged yesterday

Details of a life cut short emerged yesterday in testimony from parents of shooting victim Sarah Crawford, on day three of the trial of her accused murderer.

Just two years before her November 2004 death, Sarah Crawford had lost over 150 pounds thanks to gastric bypass surgery, her father John Powers said yesterday afternoon in Charlottesville Circuit Court. Powers said his 33-year-old daughter was talking enthusiastically about her job and was in a "good mood" when he and his wife, Irene, met their daughter for dinner at an Outback Steakhouse in Woodbridge on the Thursday night before Ms. Crawford went missing.

Three days later, the parents were distraught because their daughter's cell phone had been found in a stranger's driveway, and they hadn't heard from her. Escorted by her landlord, they entered their daughter's garage apartment but found only her cat, Sudie, without food and water and "crying."

Irene Powers testified that she found on her daughter's night stand an open book entitled It's My Life Now: Starting Over after an Abusive Relationship or Domestic Violence. It was turned, she said to page 59. According to Amazon.com, that's the first page in the chapter entitled, "Do You Still Love Him?" It comes right after the chapter entitled "The Hidden Horror: Sexual Abuse."

Prosecutors are expected to produce Sarah Crawford's affidavit for a restraining order against her husband and alleged murderer, Anthony Dale Crawford, containing graphic allegations of punching and rape. One thing prosecutors won't produce is a murder weapon.

Yesterday, lead prosecutor John Zug read into evidence testimony from a Shenandoah Valley resident who sold the defendant a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver just two weeks before the shooting. The defense team acknowledged that Thomas Morgenthaler of Mount Jackson sold a handgun for $350 cash to Mr. Crawford on November 6, 2004.

The defense has indicated that Mr. Crawford accidentally shot his wife while trying to commit suicide. Why he hasn't produced the weapon would seem to be a crucial unanswered question in that strategy.

Read our previous dispatch on the case.

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