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46 years after being convicted of murder, two men look to clear their names

Thomas O'Neil-White

In early January 1976, 62-year-old William Crawford was robbed and murdered after leaving a tavern on Buffalo’s East Side. The alleged assailants, five teenagers, were arrested and three were convicted of murder and spent a combined total of 84 years in prison despite pleading their innocence. 

Two of those teenagers, John Walker Jr, and Darryl Boyd, are calling on Erie County District Attorney John Flynn to take another look at the case.

Standing outside of the Erie County Court Building Friday, Boyd said it isn’t just the members of the “Buffalo 5” who have been negatively affected from the 44-year old murder case.

“Let’s look at it in totality,” he said. “It’s the supporters, it’s William Crawford’s family. The only person who really gained from this, that I can see, is the perpetrator himself.”

Walker, who served 22 years in prison, added it took him five years after his 2005 release to start fighting to clear his name.

Credit Thomas O'Neil-White
John Walker, Jr.

“I was just happy to be out,” he said. “I went to my parole officer because I saw that everyone else was being let off parole, so I asked, ‘when might I get off parole’ and she said, ‘John, the only way you’re getting off parole is if you die. So that kind of woke me up a little bit and I knew I had to start doing something about my case.”

Walker said he and Boyd have garnered the support of many of Buffalo East Side community leaders, including politician Betty Jean Grant and her We Are Women Warriors Organization. Walker hopes the support will encourage Flynn to act on the promises he made while campaigning to become the District Attorney.

“He came to the church, True Bethel.” he said. “And he got up in front of the whole congregation and he promised he would look at the John Walker case if the Blacks gave him their support.”

A statement Friday from Flynn said an investigation three years ago by his Conviction Integrity Unit failed to find any new evidence, but on the chance new evidence is discovered, the District Attorney’s Office would review the matter further.

For now, Boyd and Walker are leaning on the support of groups like We Are Women Warrior to help gather support. We Are Women Warriors Member Sherry Sherrill said in the current national climate, justice begs to heard.

Credit Thomas O'Neil-White
Darryl Boyd and Sherry Sherrill

“In this season of Black Lives Matter, we’re saying that Mr. Crawford’s life matters as well,” she said. “And how his life was taken from him, it is absolutely imperative to be found out. The truth must come forth and it must come forth now.”

Sherrill says her organization has created a Change.org petition as well as a GoFund Me page she says will help provide Boyd and Walker money for “better than adequate” legal representation.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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