Husband charged in wife's shooting death

COVINGTON - Newton County Sheriff's Office investigators have charged the estranged husband of a woman found Wednesday morning in her home dead of a gunshot wound with murder.

Darrell Antonio Crowder, 47, of 2544 Miriam Lane, Decatur, was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon by NCSO investigators and agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation at his parents' DeKalb County home.

He has been charged with murder, felony murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, burglary, cruelty to children in the first degree and cruelty to children in the third degree, two counts.

The Crowders had been in the midst of divorce proceedings.

Lt. Bill Watterson, spokesman for the NCSO, explained that the cruelty to children charges stemmed from the presence of the couple's 16-year-old daughter, along with her 13-year-old friend, in the home at the time of the shooting.

The Georgia Code reads that cruelty to children in the first degree occurs when a person maliciously causes a child under 18 years of age excessive physical or mental pain, which in this case would be in connection with the daughter. The third degree cruelty to children charges are being made because both girls were present in the home when the forcible felony was committed.

The 16-year-old daughter notified authorities about 5 a.m. Wednesday that her mother had been shot at her residence at 120 Lake Lucinda Drive in the Lyndhurst subdivision off Spring Road on the extreme western side of Newton County.

Deputies found 43-year-old Catcilia Crowder dead when they arrived at the home.

Watterson said that from the onset of the investigation, Darrell Crowder was the prime suspect.

Catcilia Crowder was set to appear before Judge Sammy Ozburn this week on charges of theft by taking filed against her by the GBI in October 2006. According to the arrest warrant, Crowder was accused of "filing a fraudulent income tax return" on behalf of another person and in violation of the laws of Georgia. As a result of filing the false state return, she allegedly received $4,454.

Catcilia Crowder's death marks Newton County's second murder in the first month of the year.

Watterson said the disturbing trend of domestic violence murders that has plagued the county since 2006 could have possibly been avoided if help had been sought in time.

"There is some type of prevention, but it is going to take victims and friends of the victims to report domestic violence," he said.

"There are several programs that are available for victims. They can contact any law enforcement officer. Project ReNeWal, which offers assistance to victims in Newton, Rockdale and Walton counties, can be reached at 770-860-9770, and there are numerous Web sites available that give advice and offer counseling for domestic violence victims."

Barbara Knowles can be reached at barbara.knowles@newtoncitizen.com.