Convicted murderer allowed to represent herself in hearing on sentence

By Patrick Kernan - [email protected]
Crawford -

WILKES-BARRE — A Sweet Valley woman convicted of a double homicide plans to represent herself in a hearing challenging her dual life sentences.

Holly Ann Crawford, 43, was convicted in 2015 on two counts of first-degree murder for the April 2014 shooting deaths of Ronald “Barney” Evans, 73, and his son, Jeffrey Evans, 43.

Crawford is seeking relief from her penalty under the state’s Post Conviction Relief Act, or PCRA, which is an indirect method of appeal available to defendants on certain grounds.

Crawford was set to have a PCRA hearing Thursday, but that hearing was continued until August after a county judge allowed Crawford to represent herself.

Prosecutors said Crawford and her boyfriend, James Edward Roche, 35, decided to kill the men while they were drinking and watching the film “Boondock Saints.”

Roche became enraged while watching the film and began threatening to kill the elder Evans, with whom Crawford previously had a sexual relationship in exchange for cash and gifts, prosecutors said. Crawford agreed to go with Roche, suggesting they also kill the younger Evans.

Crawford and Roche were both sentenced to two life terms.

Crawford was set to appear in front of Luzerne County Judge Fred A. Pierantoni III on Thursday and Friday to start the PCRA process.

Pierantoni granted a motion filed by Crawford allowing her to represent herself, and continued the hearing to Aug. 22.

But Pierantoni also ordered that attorney Mary Deady remain as stand-by counsel. Deady will be present through all proceedings.

Crawford will have until June 11 to file a memorandum supporting her PCRA motions. Prosecutors must respond by July 16.

Crawford previously appealed her conviction, claiming Pierantoni, who presided over the trial, erred in issuing directives to the jury and also failed to suppress a statement Crawford made to police while under the influence. Crawford’s appeal also claimed there was insufficient evidence to convict her.

That appeal was rendered null when the state Superior Court upheld the conviction in December 2016.

The three-judge panel wrote in an 11-page opinion that Pierantoni’s opinion on the case was “comprehensive, thorough and well-reasoned.”

Roche filed a similar appeal for his convictions, which were likewise upheld by the state Superior Court in January 2017.


By Patrick Kernan

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan