Crawford trial: Testimony begins

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Jason Crawford, left, with his defense team on Nov. 15, 2022 (Amy Leonard for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Jury selection in the murder trial of Cullman man Jason Crawford was completed on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 12:45 p.m. in Cullman County Circuit Judge Martha Williams’ courtroom with eight women and seven men comprising the panel of jurors. After the lunch break, the jury was seated to hear opening statements from the prosecution and the defense, followed by the first five witnesses called by the State. 

Cullman County Assistant District Attorney (ADA) Jeff Roberts provided an overview of the State’s case against Jason Crawford, who is accused of murdering his wife, Tiffiney Joy Crawford, on May 2, 2017. Roberts told of Tiffiney Crawford’s affair and her husband searching for and locating evidence to confirm the affair while his wife was dining with a female friend. Afterward, the prosecution said, Jason Crawford called his wife twice demanding that she come home immediately, and “get your shit and get out.” Upon returning home, the ADA reported, the Crawfords argued for one to one and a half hours on the back porch before Tiffiney Crawford’s death. 

Robert Tuten, the attorney for the defendant, noted in his opening statement that grand juries in the state of Alabama do not hear from the accused but are only provided with the State’s evidence to decide which cases are to go to trial. Tuten said Tuesday was the first time that Jason Crawford’s side of “this controversy” would be heard. He told of Tiffiney Crawford’s activities which took her out of the home and keeping it clean. The defense reported that Jason “happened upon information” about his wife’s affair while she was “out getting a Brazilian bikini wax or whatever.” Upon her return home after having dinner with her friend, Tuten said, the couple argued on the back porch and that’s when Jason Crawford entered the home to gather Tiffiney Crawford’s work clothes, then he heard “a shot, a scream and a shot.”  

The defense reported that Jason Crawford called 911 and instructed his young teenaged son to call his parents and tell them to come home. The defense said responding officers took photo of the scene, assessed the scene and concluded Tiffiney Crawford had died by suicide. After law enforcement left, the defense reported, that the family worked together to clean up the victim’s van, where the shooting occurred. Tuten reported that it wasn’t until sometime overnight that the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) realized that Jason Crawford’s mother, Ronda, was a CCSO employee, at which point the State was contacted to investigate. By that time, the defendant’s family had finished cleaning the vehicle. 

The defense also noted that Jason Crawford chose to abruptly leave the State’s interview due to being yelled at by the State’s investigator. Tuten said his client was well within his rights to walk out of the interview and go home. 

Tiffiney Crawford’s mother, Cheryl McGucken, was the first witness called and reported that her daughter was “always a social butterfly” and “loved to make people happy” which led her to start the Moms Helping Moms Facebook group. McGucken reported that she currently has a “good relationship” with Jason Crawford and that the defendant and her daughter enjoyed doing things together as a family. McGucken said she was aware of her daughter’s affair and reported having knowledge of Tiffiney Crawford using a curling iron to intentional burn her neck in an attempt to disguise hickeys from her extramarital affair with a man named Kyle. McGucken said she spoke to her daughter as she was on her way home after Jason Crawford’s discovery of the affair. In that last conversation with her daughter, McGucken told her, “Be careful. I love you.” 

Erin Williams was next on the witness stand, a friend of Tiffiney Crawford’s for approximately two years. The two became acquainted when Tiffiney Crawford was a client of Williams, who worked as a waxer and esthetician. Williams reported that on May 2, 2017, she was contacted by Tiffiney Crawford for a last-minute appointment. Afterward they had dinner, where Williams urged the deceased to tell Jason Crawford of her affair and her desire to leave him after “growing more and more dissatisfied” with her marriage. Williams talked about Tiffiney Crawford’s job at Publix, looking for an apartment and saving $500 in secret to fund her new life away from the defendant. While at dinner, Tiffiney Crawford received a phone call from her husband, who informed her he knew about the affair. He allegedly urged her to “get home, get your shit and go.” Williams spoke with Jason Crawford, who asked if his wife and Kyle were having sex, to which Williams said she did not know. Williams also said that she had noticed “small bruises” on Tiffiney’s body during waxing sessions. 

Caroline Gamble, a friend of the Crawfords for approximately seven years, took the stand and stated she worked with Tiffiney Crawford on Moms Helping Moms, the online forum for mothers who support one another and give tips on childcare. On May 2, 2017, Gamble was watching the Crawfords’ young children when Jason Crawford called asking if Gamble knew of the affair with Kyle and if she knew what was going on. During the conversation, Gamble reported, Jason Crawford stated that he “couldn’t go through this again,” referencing the infidelity of his first wife.  

The fourth witness was Lt. Amber Smith, CCSO dispatch supervisor. The 911 call placed by Jason Crawford was played where he stated, “My wife has been shot” and noted the gun was “laying beside her.” When asked who shot his wife, he replied, “I don’t know.” He was asked if his wife had been fighting with anyone and he responded, “We were having a very heartfelt discussion.” When asked if his wife was breathing, he said that she was moving somewhat on her stomach. 

CCSO Lt. Brandon Woods was a patrol deputy in 2017 and the first officer on the scene. Jason Crawford met Woods at the gate of the driveway. Woods reported the victim was leaning over the console into the passenger seat of the van with a pink revolver in her left hand. Woods’ bodycam video was played for the jury, in which Jason Crawford’s mother’s employment with the CCSO was discussed. During the footage, his mother arrives on scene and the ADA paused the video and asked Woods to identify her. Woods stated that it was “Ms. Ronda.” The ADA asked if Woods knew that at the time and Woods confirmed. On the video, Woods can be heard saying that Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry should be on his way to the scene. 

The jury was instructed to return at 8:15 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16. 

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