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Crowder gets life after plea

Darrell Crowder

Darrell Crowder

COVINGTON -- Darrell Antonio Crowder has pleaded guilty to malice murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony in connection with the 2008 murder of his estranged wife, according to Assistant District Attorney Melanie Bell. His case was set for trial Monday in Newton County Superior Court.

Crowder, 49, received a mandatory life sentence for the murder and a five-year consecutive sentence on the firearms charge, meaning he must serve at least 30 years of his life sentence before he is eligible for parole, Bell said.

The murder of Catcilia Crowder, 43, took place in the early morning hours of Jan. 16, 2008, at her home on Lake Lucinda Drive in western Newton County.

Bell said the state maintained that the Crowders, who were still legally married but had been estranged for quite some time, were apparently arguing via text messages.

"He was working at a post office distribution center on Crown Road in Atlanta and came to 120 Lake Lucinda Drive, kicked in the back door and fired off shots in her direction," Bell said, adding that Catcilia Crowder was believed to have been standing in her bedroom door when the first shots were fired. Bell said Catcilia Crowder then ran back into her bedroom and then into a bathroom and shut the door. She said Darrell Crowder shot through the door, striking his wife in the shoulder.

"He then kicked in the bathroom door and forced his way in and shot her twice more in the head," Bell said.

After killing his wife, Crowder returned to his job at the post office, according to Bell.

The Crowders' 16-year-old daughter was at the home at the time of the shooting, as well as a 13-year-old friend who had spent the night with her.

"We were certainly pleased with the plea. The daughter would have had to testify at trial. She didn't see him (at the time of the shooting), but she found her mother and it was a traumatic experience for her," Bell said, adding that the couple shared three other children as well. "With the holidays coming up and Mrs. Crowder's birthday was in January ... we're glad to be able to provide some closure for them before they start going through some of those tough anniversaries."