- Associated Press - Monday, December 8, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi Supreme Court has denied a prosecutor’s motion to throw out a death row inmate’s appeal of his 1994 rape conviction.

Charles Ray Crawford, 48, is on death row for the 1992 slaying of Kristy Ray in the Chalybeate community in Tippah County.

In his appeal, Crawford says he received ineffective counsel to defend himself against the rape charges, which were used by prosecutors to seek the death penalty. Few details of the rape conviction are discussed in earlier briefs in the death penalty case.

The attorney general’s office argued in requesting the dismissal that Crawford got a fair trial and that if there was any error, it was Crawford’s for waiting 20 years to file an appeal.

The Supreme Court denied the motion Thursday without comment.

Crawford argues that the 1994 rape conviction should be tossed out because he received poor legal representation at his trial. The result of the appeal could mean the difference between life and death for Crawford.

Crawford was arrested in 1992 and charged with rape and aggravated assault. While free on bond, he was arrested on murder charges in the death of a young woman. He was convicted of rape in 1993 and sentenced to 66 years in prison. He was then found guilty of murder in 1994 and sentenced to death. Prosecutors had argued for the death penalty, saying it was justified because Crawford’s past as a rapist constituted an aggravated factor and called for the harshest of punishments.

Crawford’s lawyer has argued there were numerous errors in Crawford’s rape trial including poor performance by the defense, prosecutorial misconduct, and questionable rulings and jury instructions from the trial judge.

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