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Husband Pleads Guilty To Killing John Williams In House Fire

The Salt Lake Tribune photo pool

The man accused of killing Salt Lake restaurateur John Williams last year has pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and aggravated arson.

Forty-eight-year-old Craig Crawford acknowledged in court Tuesday he intentionally caused the death of his estranged husband, by setting fire to the Salt Lake City home that he and Williams shared. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill says, in exchange, the prosecution has agreed not to seek the death penalty, but will instead ask for life without parole.

“This was charged as an aggravated murder, which was potentially a death penalty case,” Gill says. “And today’s resolution allows us to go forward and spare the family any further arduous process of trial and subsequent appeals”

Crawford’s attorney Jim Bradshaw expects his client to be incarcerated for some time, but he’s holding out hope for the option of parole.

“There’s quite a history in terms of mental health issues, a history of drug use and abuse,” Bradshaw says. “And this is obviously a horrible act but there is a lot of history and explanation behind it that I think when the court fully understands it, may have a different view of exactly what happened and why.”

A sentencing date is expected to be set during a court hearing on Friday.

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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