LETTER- In defense of Sharron Diane Crawford Smith

Since a commonwealth's attorney and a judge in Staunton are continuing to investigate a dead case ["Bound by blood: Were cop and killer father and child?" April 23.], I would like to offer a defense of Sharron Diane Crawford Smith.

This is also a defense for the various police officers who investigated the double murder 40 years ago and may have come as close to the truth as anyone who "investigated" during 2008.

The private investigator hired by the family of one of the victims again looked at old evidence and came to a different conclusion.

Sharron Smith continued to deny she had committed these murders until late in the year. Without her confession, there is not much real evidence of her guilt.

In court, I would strenuously object to the admission of her confession. The family members of one of the victims continued to pressure a sick and dying woman, confined to a nursing home, until she confessed. Was she even capable of making a rational confession?

Various parts of her confession do not make sense. Some examples: She claims she gave the murder weapon to a police detective, who buried it in a metal box on his farm. Why would she have needed anyone to help her dispose of a .25 caliber pistol? And if she gave it to the detective she knew, why would an experienced police officer, even if he was willing to commit a crime by hiding evidence, bury it in a metal box? Items are buried in metal boxes to preserve them. Why would either one of them want this gun to ever be found?

Also, part of her confession was claiming she went to the ice cream shop to tell them she couldn't work. The murders occurred at closing time. She claims she went there, got into an argument with one of the young women, and then shot both of them. If she wanted to tell them she couldn't work, why didn't she just phone? If she was talking about not working the next day, why would the first young woman have gotten so angry? If that was why Sharron went to the store, why did she have a gun with her?

Except on TV, it is rare that 40-year-old cases are solved. And in 2008, investigators went down the wrong trail. Even if DNA evidence should ever prove a family relationship between Sharron and the detective, it doesn't prove anything else.

Should we get excited because Sharron's mother and the police detective may have lived in the same neighborhood when Sharron was conceived? I don't think so.

Al Crabb