UTAH STATE PRISON — A man sentenced to prison nearly 25 years ago for killing his former girlfriend and wounding another man apparently doesn't want to talk about his crime anymore.
"I really don't have anything to say," Clifford Crawford told Utah Board of Pardons and Parole member Denise Porter in a recording of the Dec. 4 hearing.
"You don't want to have a conversation?" Porter asked.
"No. Not really. Do what you're going to do," Crawford replied. "I've got nothing to say."
Talking about the crime that got an inmate sentenced to prison is routine for any parole hearing. When Porter asked Crawford why he didn't want to talk about the day he shot and killed Sherry Preator, 31, and wounded Jesse Espinoza, 28, he simply said it wouldn't change the board's decision.
"I don't feel it will accomplish anything. What I did, I did. And I deserve whatever punishment they decide to give me. If I have to spend the rest of my life, so be it. I ain't asking for any forgiveness or anything. What I did was really wrong and I have to live with that," he said.
Crawford lived with Preator for five years. But Preator's three children, who are now adults, said he had a violent temper during that time and abused their mother and all of their siblings. He moved out when Preator and Crawford separated, but only to a house nearby. He continued to have contact with Preator and on Sept. 23, 1993, when he found Espinoza in the house with Preator, he shot both of them.
Crawford, now 69, was sentenced to eight years to life in prison. On Dec. 4, he went before the parole board seeking another chance of being released.
Two of Preator's children and Espinoza attended the hearing to encourage the board to keep Crawford in prison for the rest of his life.
"Twenty-five years is just not enough for the damage he's done," Espinoza said.
Espinoza had never met Crawford prior to being shot by him, and had only recently met Preator. But from what he learned after talking to family members, he said Crawford is a "very, very mean person, very evil."
Preator's two daughters are still scared of Crawford, to the point that they requested he not be in the room when they addressed the parole board.
"Having our mom taken from us damaged our lives beyond repair," said Preator's daughter, Jill.
She referred to Crawford as a "monster" and "that evil thing" when speaking to the board.
"We lived in fear all the time," she said.
Today, Preator has 10 grandchildren that she never met. Her children told the board that after their mother's death, they were "shuffled around" between foster homes and different relatives. Their mother, Jill said, was their stability. Since her death, she said they have struggled.
"I wake up with nightmares of him coming after me and hurting me or my family," she said. "We feel numb due to the selfish act of that monster."
Trinity Barbarino, who became pregnant at 15 after her mother was killed, told Porter "our childhood was ruined" because of Crawford.
"He ruined our lives and there's nothing that can replace it. We miss her every day like it was the first day. It doesn't go away. It stays there. We have suffered so much. … He is not a good person for society. I just beg you please don't let him free. We're scared for our safety and our children as well," she said.1 comment on this story
After listening to audio of the testimony, Crawford said in response, "I'm sorry for everything that happened. Nothing I can do about the past. I was wrong. Whatever. I'm sorry."
Crawford has had significant health problems in recent years, including quadruple bypass surgery last year, he said at the hearing. He has not been a discipline problem while in prison, Porter noted. Crawford said he keeps to himself and spends most of his time reading and watching TV.
The full five-member board will make its decision in about three weeks.