State lawmakers beef up sentencing for murder convictions


Brad Woodard / KHOU 11 News

Posted on May 26, 2011 at 6:11 PM

Updated Friday, May 27 at 11:47 AM

HOUSTON – Under current Texas law someone can be convicted of first degree murder, receive probation and never spend a day in prison, but that is all about to change. 

Former firefighter Barry Crawford was convicted of first-degree murder for killing Steven Hardin in 1998 as he tried to tow his illegally parked truck.  The sentence:  10 years probation.

“He never spent one day in prison,” said Carolyn Hardin, Steven’s mother.

“So we knew we had to do something,” said his sister Tanya Hardin.

What they did was aggressively lobby the state legislature to change the law, and this week their efforts paid off.

“Starting in September, if you commit murder and the D.A. charges you with murder, you’re going to do some prison time, whether it’s five years, 99 years or life,” said Carolyn Hardin.

The battle may be over, but for the Hardins, the war rages on.  Next session they plan to push for legislation that would, among other things, require convicted murderers to register, much in the same way sex offenders do.

Their recent success, however, is bittersweet.

“Dealing with homicide is like in open sore,” Carolyn Hardin said.  “It scabs over, but the least little thing can prick it.”

The war, like their pain, is seemingly without end.

“It never goes away.  Never,” said Hardin’s sister.