More than two decades ago, Shedrack Crummie was part of a notorious Miami drug gang known as the “Boulder Boys.”
Prosecutors wanted to put him on death row under a new federal “kingpin” law that allowed for the execution of murderous drug dealers. Yet in 1996, jurors acquitted Crummie of two murders, but convicted of conspiracy — landing him in prison on a 30-year sentence.
Despite objections from prosecutors, a federal judge later allowed him to get out two years early. His freedom did not last long.
A Miami-Dade jury on Thursday convicted Crummie of murder — for ambushing an Opa-locka seafood-store employee with a wooden beam during an early-morning robbery, a brutal attack caught on surveillance video in August 2017.
“This man was on a mission to rob,” Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney Genevieve Valle told jurors during closing arguments on Thursday. “A man on a mission motivated by greed.”
Crummie, 50, was convicted of first-degree murder and armed robbery with a deadly weapon. He was immediately sentenced to life in prison.
Crummie is also facing a sentencing for violating his federal supervision.
Named for the rock-like form of crack cocaine, the Boulder Boys were accused of selling five kilograms of the drug per week in the James E. Scott housing projects in Liberty City. The gang processed, packaged and distributed the narcotics to street dealers in the area, and was also responsible for the shootings of about 20 people in gang-related feuds.
Federal prosecutors said the victims, MacDonald Carey, 21, and Alfhea Barron, 34, were both shot to death by mistake in 1991.
The case triggered allegations of discrimination from civil libertarians and defense lawyers who charged that the government selectively applied the drug kingpin law to defendants Crummie, then 26; Edward Mack, 31. and Kevin Rozier, 30.
Crummie was the alleged gunman. The trio’s defense lawyers conceded that drugs were sold, but maintained that at least one of the government’s witnesses may have been responsible for the murders.
While Crummie was acquitted, he was still convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to the 30 years in prison.
In 2014, with most of his sentence already completed, Crummie petitioned a federal court to release him early. “Mr. Crummie is not a risk to public safety and is no more likely to offend due to a reduction in sentencing,” he wrote in his petition.
Miami federal prosecutor Luis Perez, who tried Crummie in 1996 and is still with the office, wrote that the 30-year sentence “protected the public ... and deterred additional criminal activity.” U.S. Judge Ursula Ungaro sided with Crummie, lopping off two years of his sentence.
He was released from prison on Oct. 30, 2015, and was placed on federal supervision.
The attack happened at the Northwest Seafood Market on Aug. 21, 2017.
The victim was Carl Swanson, 50, a former Florida Keys resident who had worked at the market for nearly two decades. An avid fisherman, he was an animal lover, frequently rescuing dogs, finding homes for the stray cats who flocked to the fish market.
He had no kids, lived in a tiny, old apartment on Miami Beach and drove a beat-up Ford Escape.
“He was a person who really didn’t need a lot,” said his brother, Patrick Swanson, 65.
That morning, just after 5 a.m., Swanson was following his usual routine, opening the door to prep the market for opening.
Surveillance video showed Swanson suddenly crumpled to the ground, felled by a sudden blow from the wooden two-by-four embedded with rusty nails.
Crummie opened the door and dragged Swanson’s body inside, a thick trail of blood smearing the ground. Then, he repeatedly slapped Swanson, before searching the store — and cutting himself on the arm on a display case during the frantic minutes.
Prosecutors said he returned to his car, cleaning himself off, and leaving the bloody clothes inside the vehicle. Then, Crummie went back inside to continue looking for valuables, prosecutors said.
Little did Crummie know, a silent alarm had been triggered. Police officers rushed to the store and found him hiding in a crawl space above a refrigerator.
After his arrest, Crummie told a police officer that Swanson had made a sexual advance toward him. The video, however, shows Swanson hadn’t been talking to anybody.
“There was no sexual advance. It was an ambush,” said Valle, who prosecuted the case along with Alexandria Lewis.
For prosecutors, the evidence was overwhelming. Besides the video and being caught at the scene, Crummie’s DNA was found on latex gloves he was seen wearing during the attack. Crummie was also found with Swanson’s keys.
His defense lawyers didn’t contest that Crummie was the attacker on the video. Instead, they told the jury that Crummie may only have been guilty of theft, not the armed robbery and murder.
“Mr. Crummie ... did not intend to kill him,” said attorney Alex Sola, who defended him along with Gregory Gonzalez.