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MAHONING COUNTY Woman will stand trial in shooting of ex-husband



Published: Thu, May 31, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



She offered to plead no contest, but prosecutors refused it.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- A jury will decide whether Addie Crawley was justified in shooting her former husband as he laid in her bed last October.

Her case is set for trial Aug. 1 in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court before Judge James C. Evans.

Crawley, 50, of Lockwood Boulevard, Boardman, faces a charge of aggravated assault. She has admitted shooting 50-year-old Benjamin Holmes of Fairmont Avenue at her home.

At a hearing May 9, Crawley was prepared to plead guilty to the charge but changed her mind because of a civil lawsuit Holmes filed against her a week earlier seeking damages for the gunshot wounds.

"That's what really threw a wrench into the gears," said Jay Macejko, an assistant county prosecutor.

Crawley's attorney, James Gentile, was concerned that pleading guilty to the criminal charge would adversely affect her defense in the civil case.

Gentile offered to have Crawley plead no contest, but Macejko said his office objected to anything less than a guilty plea. In exchange, prosecutors would dismiss a firearm specification.

Ticket to prison: A firearm specification means a gun was used to commit the crime and adds a mandatory three years to any prison term imposed for underlying charges.

A plea of no contest is an admission of neither guilt nor innocence, and means the defendant does not contest the allegations in the indictment.

Since the sides could not agree on terms for a new plea deal, the case will proceed to trial, Macejko said. Gentile could not be reached to comment.

Under Ohio law, the judge has the final say in whether to approve a plea agreement. Judge Evans said he has not been approached about the possibility of a no-contest plea in the case and declined to say whether he'd accept it.

Common pleas judges usually do not accept a plea of no contest, primarily because it leaves the door open for an appeal, Judge Evans said.

Escape: Holmes said he disappeared from the area some 20 years ago to avoid prosecution for aggravated arson charges in Trumbull County. Crawley had him declared legally dead 12 years ago.

Crawley told police that he resurfaced late last year and made a series of threats against her, resulting in her shooting him as he was sleeping in her bed Oct. 12. Gentile has said the shooting was self-defense, which makes it justifiable.

But Holmes said Crawley is lying and that he had been back in the area living with her for about three years before the shooting. He said she shot him to cover up a relationship with another man, to whom she is now married.

Holmes said he operated a mail-order business out of their house, selling blueprints for gun silencers.

bjackson@vindy.com




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