Sherrita Crumpler is a 35-year-old woman currently serving a 17 Year sentence at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. A tragic accident that took the life of her girlfriend Candra Keels led to Sherrita being convicted in August 2015 of Manslaughter in the first degree. She did not have a history of or prior convictions of any violent crimes.
In her words, “all that I am guilty of is loving someone and remaining with them despite years of domestic violence.” She stayed with her former partner out of a sense of debt due to her partners support during Sherrita’s many bouts of Crohn’s disease-related illnesses. “I simply wanted to be loved despite my physical condition,” she said.
“Domestic violence in a relationship starts out slow and, because you are in it, you don’t see the damage that is truly happening to your life,” Sherrita recalled. “The first time they slap you and say I’m sorry and you say it’s okay. When they take your cell phone and destroy it, it’s okay because she bought me a new one. When she comes to your mother’s house and slashes your tires, it’s okay because she got me new ones.” Sherrita explained that her continued acceptance of Candra’s behavior was because of her having been brought up in a loving family, one in which forgiveness was celebrated.
On the day that stole two lives, Candra was at work while Sherrita made dinner in the style that Candra liked, extra salty. She wanted to make sure that Candra had food to eat when she came home. Sherrita had some company over at the time and Candra’s cousin, who lived upstairs, happened to notice. She told Candra, who got angry. Candra hated when Sherrita had friends over. The text messages started coming. To make sure that her friends didn’t have to witness Candra’s anger upon her return, Sherrita decided to take them and leave the apartment. Yet Sherrita came back later, not to stay, but to get some money and leave once more with her sister. She thought Candra would be asleep, but she wasn’t. Once she entered the house, Candra started hitting her. She hit Sherrita with something so hard across her face that her vision became unclear. Sherrita’s sister walked in to try and convince Sherrita to leave, yet Sherrita could not completely comprehend as she was still standing in a daze. Her sister left, thinking that Sherrita would gather her things and join her in the car. Once she regained her composure, Sherrita told Candra that she was leaving or Candra could leave. Candra became irate and came at her with a knife. The two started struggling and both fell to the floor. When Sherrita finally got up, Candra told her she was hurt. Sherrita immediately called 911 for help and the two stumbled outside to get Sherrita’s sister to help them. After Sherrita’s interrogation, she was rushed to the hospital because she couldn’t move one side of her face as a result of her injuries. She was drooling and her face was numb. While at the hospital the doctors told her she had a cracked eye socket and checked her for brain damage on account of the big bruise on top of her head. Candra was taken to the hospital with what was initially stated as non-life-threatening injuries. It took hours for the doctors to work on Candra and, sadly, she passed while at the hospital.
Sherrita’s full history of her status as a survivor of domestic violence was not considered at the trial and her lawyer refused to object to inaccuracies put forward by the prosecution. Moreover, during the trial Sherrita’s Constitutional Sixth Amendment Rights were violated.