State prosecutors argue for use of evidence during pre-trial hearing in Crocker case

Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 4:31 PM EDT
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EFFINGHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Pre-trial hearings continued Friday for one of the defendants accused of killing two Effingham County teenagers 5 years ago.

Elwyn Crocker Senior is charged with two counts of malice murder and two counts of felony murder in the deaths of his son Elwyn Crocker Junior and daughter Mary Crocker.

The bodies of the two teens were found buried in their family’s backyard back in 2018.

Day two began with Judge F. Gates Peed hearing arguments about what evidence should be allowed into the trial. State prosecutors want to use text messages and email conversations between other people charged in the case.

They say those messages will help show a conspiracy to harm and conceal the deaths of Mary and Elwyn Jr.

“The conspiracy is really the cruelty to children. It’s the long-term abuse, torture, and murder of two children that took place over years. That is the conspiracy. That’s why every text message they send back and forth to each other over those years dealing with the children is relevant,” said prosecutor Matthew Breedon.

Crocker’s defense team pushing back saying the state’s request isn’t specific enough and that their client isn’t responsible for messages that other people send.

“Any messages that are sent from Mark Wright or Candice Crocker should not be permitted unless the state can prove that Mr. Crocker saw or responded to said text messages,” said defense attorney Jerilyn Bell.

State prosecutors also asked to include the internet searches of Crocker’s brother-in-law Mark Wright who is also charged in Mary’s death and concealing Elwyn Jr.’s.

“Modern CPR, the yellow pill of death, yellow pills that kill, the effects of drinking Clorox. I think those searches are intrinsic to explain the nature of the crimes to the jury, tell the whole story about what was going on in that house, and how Mary Crocker died,” said Breedon.

In response, defense lawyers said those searches have nothing to do with Crocker.

“I don’t think this is admissible at all in Mr. Crocker’s case because there’s no allegation here that our client participated in any way, that he had any knowledge in any way,” said Bell.

Judge Peed heard arguments about state prosecutors wanting to include other allegations against Crocker involving violence, sexual assault, and child molestation.

They’re also petitioning to use audio and visual aids during opening statements in trial.

Judge Peed also sought to resolve which side is responsible for getting information from an FBI DNA analysis.

Crocker’s lawyers emphasized the importance of that evidence and any testimony related to it as all three defendants in this case face the death penalty.