Convicted murderer may finally go to jail

October 2, 2009 8:04:38 AM PDT
A local family says it may finally get justice in the memory of their loved one. They say the man who killed him is making a mockery of the justice system and they want it to stop. Barry Crawford is in the Harris County jail, accused of violating the terms of his probation. The family of the man he killed believes he's right where he should have been the last 10 years.

Steven Hardin was just 26 years old when he was murdered in April of 1998.

"I lost it, my son was killed, my baby boy," said Steve's mother, Carolyn Hardin.

The tow truck driver was getting ready to tow a car when he was shot and killed by the vehicle's owner, Barry Bernard Crawford. A jury convicted Crawford of murder and sentenced him to 10 years probation and a $10,000 fine.

"We were completely blown away because I felt like my brother's life meant more than just 10 years probation," said Steve's sister, Tonya Hardin.

The terms of the probation would be quite lengthy, requiring Crawford to do community service, carry a picture of Hardin with him at all times, serve jail time on the victim's birthday and murder date, and pay restitution to Hardin's family and two young children.

"I thought the justice system was better than this," said Carolyn.

The family says while they've gotten some checks for $1.24, $7.93, and $11.70, they don't add up to the thousands he owes. The Hardins have claimed for years that Crawford has ignored many of the probation requirements.

Tonya said, "If you're not going to do what the court orders you to do, you should go to prison."

With less than a year left in his probation, the Hardins may at last get their wish. This week Crawford was arrested following a motion to revoke his probation.

"Instead of saying, you know, 'I'm going to make sure I do everything right because I don't want to go back to prison,' he kept thumbing his nose, rolling the dice, and kept daring the court to do something. We're certainly pleased the court has taken action," said Andy Kahan, the Mayor's Crime Victim Advocate.

The motion to revoke Crawford's probation outlines at least 11 violations, from failing to complete community service to not reporting to his probation officer. Court documents say he owes more than $22,000 to the court and Hardin family.

"If the state presents evidence that the defendant did violate his probation, the judge can revoke the defendant and sentence him to a term in years not to exceed the length of the probation," said Donna Hawkins of the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

That means a judge could send Crawford to prison for up to 10 years or he could get more probation.

"It feels like we are the ones on probation," said Tonya.

The Hardin family hopes 11 years after the death of Steven they will feel justice is served at last.

"Waiting for the day that the judge says, 'Barry Crawford, we've given you enough chances. You're going to prison,'" said Carolyn.

Crawford is scheduled to be in court on October 29 and that means he will spend his birthday in the Harris County jail.

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