HARTFORD COUNTY, Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut Appellate Court has denied an appeal from a 39-year-old man serving a 78-year prison sentence for killing his girlfriend, according to a ruling published Tuesday.
Darryl Crenshaw, of Hartford County, was convicted of murdering, assaulting, and kidnapping Ashley Peoples in 2008.
Crenshaw’s appeal claims that a lower court was wrong when it disagreed that his attorney “rendered deficient performance” at trial and didn’t properly prepare for the case. He also said that his lawyer should have focused on a theory claiming that Crenshaw didn’t mean to kill Peoples when he punched her in the head.
However, Crenshaw had also choked her before her death, according to court records.
Witness testimony corroborated the claim that Crenshaw “‘would choke the victim before whenever he was angry and did not have reason to believe that if he choked her again on a subsequent occasion that she would die as a result,'” according to court documents.
In the hours before her death, Crenshaw also punched her twice in the face when the couple was in a nail salon parking lot.
A medical examiner said Peoples was strangled and had blunt force trauma to her head and neck, but was not able to say which injury killed her. The medical examiner also said that Peoples could have survived being strangled and might have stayed conscious immediately after the head injury, and then survived for 10 hours.
The day after kidnapping Peoples, Crenshaw took a date to Six Flags, told her that he wasn’t a murderer, and then later told his friends they could take anything they wanted from his house because he was moving, according to court documents.
Police later found Peoples’ body in a bedroom after executing a search warrant. They also found a laundry basket, bath towel, and clothes that had blood stains on them, one of her nails was missing and her blood was found underneath Crenshaw’s fingernails, police said. He was later arrested after he was caught living under a different name in Mexico.
According to court documents, Crenshaw told police that he’d pushed Peoples after he made her jealous, slapped her, and choked her. He found her pulse the next morning, went on his date, and returned to find her barely breathing.
When she stopped breathing, he “tucked her into bed, just hoping she would wake up.”
Crenshaw’s appeal argues that “the only reasonable strategy” was that he didn’t think punching Peoples would kill her. The lawyer, however, did use the “two punch theory,” and also addressed the fact that Peoples could have been strangled to death.
The state court also ruled that Crenshaw’s attorney “sufficiently understood” the medical science, prepared adequately, and “presented a well thought out theory of defense,” according to court documents.
He started the appeal process in 2016.