Should A Murderer-Probationer Repay Victim’s Family?


Steven Hardin, a tow truck driver, died in 1998 when Houston firefighter Barry Crawford shot him in a towing dispute. In a high-profile trial with a shocking outcome, a jury found Crawford guilty of first-degree murder but sentenced him to probation, says the Texas Tribune. Judge Ted Poe, now a Republican U.S. congressman, imposed strict terms on Crawford's 10-year probation sentence. He was supposed to help support Steven's two children, to carry a photo of the 26-year-old in his wallet, to do 1,000 hours of community service and to pay thousands of dollars to the family in restitution.

Since the jury handed down a sentence that the victim’s mother, Carolyn Hardin, calls a “slap in the face,” she has watched in frustration as Crawford has failed to comply with the terms of his probation. After 12 years, she has little more than a stack of piddling checks from Crawford. He failed to complete his community service and owes thousands of dollars to the Hardin family. Despite Crawford’s failings, Judge Lee Duggan ended his probation. Carolyn Hardin plans to ask legislators to make it harder for probationers to get away with not fulfilling the terms of their sentences. “If a judge is going to put terms of probation on a person, make sure they do them, not just half-ass do them – excuse my French,” she says.

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