Retrial for man convicted of student's murder to begin Tuesday

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 11:03 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 15, 2009

COLUMBIA — The retrial for a Kansas man convicted in the 2003 slaying of an MU student is set to begin Tuesday morning.

In November 2004, Taron Crawford, 26, was convicted of second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Charles Blondis, who was a sophomore at MU.  Crawford was sentenced to 25 years in prison and has been incarcerated at Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron.

Boone County Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton ruled that Crawford should have another trial because his legal counsel, Roderick Smith, was ineffective in the first trial. Hamilton ruled that Smith was not sufficiently persistent in his objections.

In May 2008, the Missouri Western District Court of Appeals upheld the ruling. Smith has since been disbarred, but not for reasons relating to Crawford's case.

The incident in question occurred at a November 2003 party attended by both Crawford and Blondis. A fight broke out at the party and shots were fired. Blondis was fatally wounded by a shot to the chest. Investigators discovered the murder weapon in the backyard of the apartment where Crawford was staying.

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