ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - The mother of a South Georgia man is speaking out for the first time as her son is set to be executed next Wednesday.
Ray Cromartie’s mother is begging for DNA testing to be done. She hopes it will prevent his death. She said the pain she’s felt has been unbearable and she’s ready for it to be over.
“If my heart could just stop hurting. I can’t handle it. But how you going to stop your heart from hurting when it’s your baby that they about to put to sleep,” said Estelle Barrau, Cromartie’s mother.
The 73-year-old mother said she hasn’t been the same since she discovered her son will be put to death soon.
“This should be the happy time in my life but seems like it’s the worst time of my life,” said Barrau.
She’s living through death again.
Barrau, lost another child when he was 4-years-old. Now, her youngest child is up for death.
Cromartie is convicted of killing a Thomasville store clerk in 1994.
“As a mother, it hurts so much and when I sleep at night, all I see is my son laying across in front of me. How can you sleep like that,” said Barrau.
Barrau said she believes an accomplice killed Richard Slysz that April morning. He was shot twice in the head while three men, including Cromartie, stole beer.
She said over 20 years ago, she and Cromartie had a conversation about taking a plea deal.
“Do you want me to plea deal for something that I didn’t do? And I told him no, I’ll be with you every step of the way if you didn’t do it,” said Barrau.
An answer she now regrets every day.
“I regret that. If he had a plea deal even though he didn’t do it, he would be free,” said Barrau.
Cromartie’s attorney said two men involved in this murder have already been released.
Now, the convicted killer’s family wants a DNA test to prove that was a mistake.
“Just set my son free. And I know it’s up to God but I ask God to stop my heart from hurting," said Barrau.
State of Georgia officials have set the execution date and time for Cromartie.
The state Department of Corrections said he will be put to death Wednesday, Novermber 13 at 7 p.m.
He was scheduled to be put to death last Wednesday when a trial court issued a stay of execution.
The Georgia Supreme Court then lifted that stay.
A prayer vigil is set to happen for Cromartie, ahead of his execution next week.
This is the second time they've held a vigil within the last few weeks.
The prayer vigil will take place at the historic courthouse in downtown Thomasville.
There will be live music with a guest artist, all to bring the community together.
Cromartie’s family said they hope through prayer, it will change the outcome and bring awareness to what’s going on.
“We’re very hopeful, we come from a strong family, we pray and we always have faith in God. So yes, we’re hoping and praying that a change is going to come,” said Sabrina Cromartie, Ray’s cousin.
They’re hoping Cromartie will be granted DNA testing between now and his death.
The family believes it could reverse the conviction.
They’ve collected over 3,000 signatures on a petition to stop the execution.