Court affirms death penalty for convicted Krystal killer
DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - The Alabama Criminal Court of Appeals upheld the capital murder conviction and death penalty for a man who shot and killed two employees of a North Alabama restaurant.
Jordaan Creque admitted to killing Jeff Graff and Jessie Aguilar while they worked the overnight shift at the Decatur Krystal in August 2011. Creque was scheduled to work the overnight shift on the night of the murder, but did not show up.
Ezekiel Gholston and Cassandra Eldred helped him commit the murder. Creque knocked on the drive-through window to get the attention of the employees. Graff opened a side door to let him in the restaurant. Creque and Gholston rushed into the Krystal while Eldred waited in the car.
Police found cash from the restaurant at Eldred's home and Creque's apartment. Gholston led investigators to the gun used in the crime.
A jury convicted Creque in 2013 and voted 11-1 in favor of the death penalty.
Creque appealed, stating his statements were not legally obtained and should be banned from trial. The judge disagreed and allowed the statements to be presented to the jury.
Creque also argued a juror was biased and initiated contact with the lead investigator at a department store during a weekend break during the trial. The investigator and juror were questioned by the judge. The judge did not declare a mistrial. According to testimony, the juror worked at the store and recognized the detective. The detective testified he did not immediately recognize the juror and the facts of the case were not discussed. The judge allowed the trial to continue based on the testimony.
The Appeals Court upheld that decision, stating nothing in the juror or investigator's testimony supports Creque's argument the juror was biased.
Creque's third argument states the court should have allowed him to present testimony from a forensic expert who would tell jurors Creque shot Graff accidentally. The appeals court states the record refutes that argument and noted testimony from the expert during trial.
In his appeal Creque also challenged the jury selection process, arguments by the prosecutor, and jury instructions.
The appeals court ruled against each claim in Creque's appeal. He remains on death row at Holman Prison. Gholston and Eldred are both serving prison sentences for murder.
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