Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg man goes on trial, accused of smothering ailing wife

Witness say Albert F. Crandall admitted to a mercy killing.

Witness say Albert F. Crandall admitted to a mercy killing.

To prove Albert F. Crandall murdered his wife, prosecutors turned on Tuesday to a compelling set of witnesses — three people who said he admitted to the killing.

"You will hear, this defendant told people that he smothered his wife with a pillow," Assistant State Attorney Kate Alexander said.

But what kind of killing was it? Crandall previously has been portrayed as a sympathetic husband who was trying to save his wife from the pain and agony of a long illness.

His suicide note alluded to this, but Crandall survived the slashes to his wrist.

The first day of his trial did not reveal whether Crandall's public defenders will try to argue that Davis' death was a mercy killing. They chose not to make an opening statement Tuesday, reserving the right to do so later.

But the issue did come up when jurors were not in the courtroom.

During a discussion about what instructions jurors would be given before they deliberate, Assistant State Attorney Doug Ellis said he would like to include explaining that a person who assists someone in "self-murder" commits the crime of manslaughter. In other words, if the jury were to decide Crandall was merely helping his wife commit suicide, that would still be a crime.

But Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Michael Andrews was skeptical that an instruction like that could apply to the case of a man accused of smothering his wife with a pillow.

"That isn't assisting in anything," Andrews said. "That's murder."

During trial testimony on Tuesday, Patrick Schwar of St. Petersburg Fire-Rescue said when he arrived in April 2012 at the couple's apartment at 661 77th Ave. N, he could smell "the odor of death" before he even got inside. Judith Davis, 61, was lying in bed, dead. Crandall was in the bed also, with superficial cuts on his wrists that were not bleeding at the time.

Schwar said that he began asking Crandall when his wife died, and he said, "she had been hurting and asked me to do it several times. I did it Saturday at 3 a.m."

Later, when Crandall was taken to St. Anthony's Hospital, he told medical staff "My wife had medical issues, I suffocated her with a pillow," said Officer Peter Yarbrough, who testified that he overheard the comment. And nurse Margaret Nguyen recalled Crandall saying that "he suffocated his wife."

Police said they found a suicide note in the apartment. The note, which was not been presented to the jury Tuesday, began: "(Judy) has been in constant pain and agony for the past several months. No one has been helpful in helping her mainly due to our economic situation. This is the course of what happens when people like us with limited income and no insurance, if anything can come out of this hopefully people will find a message that … we all should have proper medical care when we need it.

"(Judy) and I have both battled our demons and for the most part compared to some we have had a good run," the note continued. "But it seemed to us that what we faced now was not where we wanted to be at this age, but to go out frail and in agony was not what we wanted either."

Staff writer Curtis Krueger can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8232. Twitter: @ckruegertimes.

St. Petersburg man goes on trial, accused of smothering ailing wife 05/14/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 11:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay small businesses give Tampa B+ for regulatory climate

    Corporate

    In a recent survey about small business sentiments toward state and local government policies that affect them, Tampa Bay ranked at No. 25 out of 80 — a B+ overall.

    Tampa Bay ranked No. 25 out of 80 in a recent survey about how small business owners feel about state and local government policies that affect them. | [Times file photo]
  2. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  3. Seminole Heights murders: fear and warnings, but no answers

    Crime

    TAMPA — Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan elicited loud gasps from the crowd of about 400 who showed up at Edison Elementary School on Monday night to learn more about the string of unsolved killings that have left the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood gripped by fear.

    Kimberly Overman, left, comforts Angelique Dupree, center, as she spoke about the death of her nephew Benjamin Mitchell, 22, last week in Seminole Heights. The Tampa Police Department held a town hall meeting Monday night where concerned residents hoped to learn more about the investigation into the three shooting deaths over 11 days in southeast Seminole Heights. But police could give the crowd at Edison Elementary School few answers. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

    One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations, Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST), voted Monday night to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year. FAST believes civil citations could help Pinellas County?€™s teen car theft epidemic by keeping children out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON  |  Times]
  5. U.S. general lays out Niger attack details; questions remain (w/video)

    War

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Special Forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn't call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general said Monday, as he tried to clear up some of the murky details of the assault that killed four American troops and has triggered a nasty …

    Gen. Joseph Dunford said much is still unclear about the ambush.