Emory Lee Crews' son Darryl Lee, a father of three, was 35 years old when he was gunned down June 3, 1994 in an apartment on Sonoma Street in Carson City. His killer, Conrad Holmes, is 38 today and going before the parole board in February for his second try at freedom. Crews does not see parole for the "cold-blooded killer" of his son as an option.
"He emptied the gun into my son's body and only stopped when the bullets ran out," he said choking back tears Sunday in his Carson City home. "If he'd had 20 bullets he would have continued shooting."
Darryl, a corrections officer at the Nevada State Prison, was helping a friend move on that fateful day in June. Darryl's wife Tina and 7-year-old daughter waited outside in the car. There was animosity between Holmes and Darryl because of an alleged affair between Holmes and Darryl's wife.
Holmes was the roommate of the friend Darryl was helping move, but Darryl was assured Holmes would not be home. He was supposed to be out of town. He was not, Crews said.
According to Crews, when Holmes came to the apartment, Darryl had some words with him. The shouting match escalated but no punches were thrown. Then, Crews said, Holmes went into his room and came back with a loaded .22 caliber rifle. "And he aimed it at my son and said, 'Get out of my house' boom boom boom. And unloaded it into my son."
The first shot, Crews described, hit Darryl in the cheek, the next shot hit Darryl in the leg.
"At this point he was on his knees," Crews said of his son, the thought still obviously painful for him after seven years.
According to Crews, Darryl had his hand in the air during the two other shots. One passed through his hand and into his chest and another through his arm before entering his chest. Of the seven shots Holmes pumped into Darryl, all hit him, leaving nine wounds. The final shot was fired with the muzzle of the weapon against Darryl's neck.
"They know this because there is blood inside the barrel," Crews said.
The news of his son's murder came to him from a friend who had seen it on television. Crews called the police station and they verified that his son was indeed dead. Emory Crews never saw his boy again.
The District Attorney's Office charged Holmes with the lesser charge of second degree murder. He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after five years. He is currently serving his sentence at the Nevada State Prison in Ely.
Crews' pain didn't end at the verdict. "I want people to know, survivors live with this forever," he said. His mission now, Crews said, is to be sure that his son's killer stays in prison.
"For that type of murder and that type of sentence, it just throws it right back on the victim's family. You can't let the system handle it, it's a continuous fight for the rest of your life, to keep the killer in prison," Crews said.
At the time of the verdict, Crews couldn't imagine the passage of five years without his son, let alone, when Holmes would first be eligible for parole. But five years passed and Holmes went before the parole board. Crews attended. He wanted to make sure Holmes wasn't released and was successful in that bid. Now, two more years have passed and Holmes is going before the parole board again.
"I want them to know what kind of person Holmes is," Crews said. He is prepared to go before the board as many times as necessary. "At this point, as long as I am healthy, I will fight to keep Holmes in prison," Crews said.
"If you lose a child you're going to do everything you can to make sure that guy is punished," he said. Crews said his daughter Cheryl Crews-Mitchell is also prepared to be at the hearing in February, and will continue when he is no longer able.
Crews is tireless in his efforts to keep Holmes off the street. In addition to being at any parole hearings Holmes might have, Crews hopes to start a letter-writing campaign on behalf of his son.
"I am just trying to get people to write in to protest the parole. The parole board has to listen to the citizens of the state if people would tell them they don't want Holmes released because of his violent nature," he said.
"The pain never goes away," Crews said of the loss of his son. "For the first year I cried every night. And then it got easier... but that pain never goes away."
At the last parole hearing Crews had 33 people write in, this time he hopes it's more.
You can write the parole board
Nevada Parole Board
1445 Hot Springs Rd. Suite 108-B
Carson City, NV 89711
re: Conrad Holmes Inmate # 043940