Woman Hopes Website Clears Tomato Patch Murder Case - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Woman Hopes Website Clears Tomato Patch Murder Case

From www.billycrowder.com. From www.billycrowder.com.

Nine years ago, a Long County family killed their grandfather but claimed they were the victims of his abuse. The case, nicknamed the Tomato Patch Murder, drew national media attention and still draws discussion on legal shows on national attention.

Jean Ramirez walked through a cemetery to do what her boyfriend Billy Crowder can't, check on his grandmother's grave. Buried right next to her, the grandfather Billy admitted killing nine years ago. Ramirez, who met Billy when they were teenagers, learned of the infamous Tomato Patch Murder case years after Billy went to prison.

Over the weekend, she drove from her home in Texas to see Crowder in prison. She drove from Telfair State Prison in Helena to the Pigot Branch Church cemetery in Long County.

She's launched a website with the details of his case. She wanted to let the public know what she said really happened, hoping to get Crowder an early release.

"It's like this boy was expendable and it's mind boggling," she said. "It's deplorable and I think there are a lot of people out there that don't understand it."

Crowder, his mother and his sister claimed they killed Thurman Martin because he'd abused them for years. They admitted burying his body in their yard and planting tomatoes on top to disguise the fresh dirt. Crowder received the toughest and strangest sentence of all.

The jury found Billy guilty, not of murder, but of manslaughter with a much lighter sentence. But they found him guilty of armed robbery for taking his dead grandfather's wallet and for that charge, a judge sentenced him to life.

"Nine years ago, people were outraged and wondering how could this boy be sent to prison," said Ramirez. "Nine years later, that boy's still in prison."

On the website, Ramirez says a parole board, the governor, whoever, should take into account Billy's claims of abuse and give him the freedom he never had.

If nothing changes, Crowder is scheduled to go before a parole board for the first time in April, 2012.

To see the website, visit www.billycrowder.com.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com 

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