February 5, 2007
A jury began hearing witness testimony late Monday afternoon in the murder trial of Anthony Dale Crawford.
Prosecutors said Crawford abducted, raped and killed his wife. While defense attorneys said it was an accident after they struggled over a gun.
Sarah Louise Crawford was found dead at the Quality Inn in Charlottesville in November 2004. Charged with capital murder, her estranged husband now stands trial and faces life in prison if convicted.
“Perhaps they thought they could not get the death penalty in this case based on all of the factors,” said Legal Analyst David Heilberg.
The factors according to prosecutors: the couple had been separated; Sarah they say feared for her life; and she sought a restraining order.
The defense said Anthony accidentally shot his wife once in the chest as he was trying to kill himself. His attorneys are expected to call gun experts to support their theory.
Heilberg said the experts may be able to tell how the gun was fired. “If there was gun powder residue that could be significant, especially if there was gun powder residue on the victim’s hands. I am not saying if there was or wasn’t in this case,” he explained.
What the jury won't hear is Anthony was acquitted of the marital rape of his first wife years earlier. In a 1992 interview with Larry King, Anthony Crawford maintained his innocence.
“This was willing on both parts?” said King. “Yes,” said Crawford. “She enjoyed it, you enjoyed it?” said King. “Yah,” said Crawford. “Sometimes you video taped it to watch yourselves?” said King. And Crawford responded in the affirmative.
The case drew national attention.
“After Dale was found not guilty, they had a rally at the State House and these woman's groups got behind the wife. She went public and said here's the victim, the wife, but in this case here's the victim, the man the husband,” said Wayne Floyd, Crawford’s former attorney.
But today in a Charlottesville court room there was no question who the victim was.
Sarah's father tells us he remembers times when Crawford hit Sarah and according to court documents Crawford threatened to kill Sarah numerous times.
The gun that killed Sarah Crawford was never recovered.
The trial is expected to last through the end of the week.