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Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Crawford



Type of Case:


Location (State or Country): 


Civil or Criminal: 

Testimony from Wife of Accused

Form of Corroboration: 


Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Crawford was a 1994 criminal case in which Franklin Crawford was found guilty of murder after John Reed recovered memories of witnessing Crawford dispose of the body ove 20 years earlier. “Franklin Crawford, 49, of Dayton was charged in May, 1994 with the murder of Pearl Mae Altman after another man said that seeing a woman who resembled the victim brought forth repressed memories of witnessing Crawford throwing the woman off a bridge. ...John Reed cried as he testified Thursday that he was 16 on Oct. 22, 1971, when he saw Crawford throw Pearl Mae Altman into the Allegheny River” (Associated Press 1995). A woman’s purse and shoes were found 23 years ago near the spot where he said Altman was thrown in the river. Crawford also happened to have been the prime suspect at the time. Crawford’s then-wife testified “that her husband came home that night, removed his clothes, and put them in the washer. She said it was the only time in their marriage he put clothes in the washer. She said he got dressed again and, before leaving, told her to tell anyone looking for him that she hadn’t seen him" (Walsh). Crawford was found guilty, but appealed and the judgement was temporarily reversed on the ground that the judge did not allow testimony of a psychiatrist who would have testified about the “unreliability” of recovered memory, the corroborative evidence notwithstanding. However, this change in judgement was appealed again in 1997, and the original judgement and sentencing was reinstated in 1998.


1. Associated Press. (1995, February 19). Man Guilty in 1971 Slaying After Witness Recalls the Drowning. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

2.Walsh, L. (1996, August 11). Murder Memory Misjudged by Judge. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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