Frank McCray Arizona Death Row

frank mccray

Frank McCray was sentenced to death by the State of Arizona for the sexual assault and murder of a woman. According to court documents Frank McCray broke into the home of the victim who would be sexually assaulted and strangled to death. Frank McCray would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death.

Arizona Death Row Inmate List

Frank McCray 2021 Information

ASPC Eyman, Browning Unit
PO Box 3400
Florence, AZ 85132
United States

Frank McCray More News

On May 21, 1987, the victim, Chestene Cummins, was at home preparing to leave on a trip to California with her boyfriend. She had taken the day off work to run errands and pack. Frank McCray somehow gained access to her apartment, most likely while in the neighborhood committing burglaries. When the victim’s boyfriend arrived home from work, he found her body laying in the bedroom. She had been sexually assaulted, beaten and strangled to death. The physical evidence demonstrated that the victim had put up a significant struggle during the assault. Law enforcement officers were unable to solve the crime at the time, but they preserved in evidence a sexual assault swab test kit and the cord used to strangle the victim.

In 2000, a Phoenix Police Department cold case detective submitted the evidence for DNA analysis at the Arizona Department of Public Safety Crime Lab. The DPS lab technicians were able to identify McCray from semen through a CODIS hit. McCray’s DNA profile had been entered into the CODIS database from a previous conviction for sexual assault on another young woman subsequent to the murder. McCray’s DNA was also confirmed on the cord used to strangle the victim.

Frank McCray Other News

On May 21, 1987, Chestene Cummins was strangled to death in her Phoenix apartment.   Her boyfriend found her body on the floor with her mouth gagged, her body heavily bruised, her pants removed, and her shirt sliced open.   She had been strangled with a sweatpants drawstring that was wrapped three times around her neck.   The apartment was in disarray and there were signs of a struggle.   Cummins’s wallet and rings were missing.   The only fingerprints identified at the scene belonged to Cummins, her boyfriend, and her sister.

¶ 3 During an autopsy the next day, Cummins’s vagina, rectum, and mouth were swabbed for fluid.   The medical examiner’s office tested fluid from each swab for acid phosphatase, an enzyme found in semen, and all the tests were negative.   Fluid from each swab was also placed on separate filter papers that were sent to the Department of Public Safety crime lab.   Unlike the medical examiner, a DPS analyst found acid phosphatase in the fluid from the vaginal and oral swabs.   DPS froze and retained portions of the samples.   DPS also identified acid phosphatase on other objects from the apartment. In 1987, DNA technology could not identify a perpetrator from the evidence, and the crime remained unsolved for more than a decade.

¶ 4 In 1997, the blood of Frank McCray, who had been imprisoned for a 1992 sexual assault, was drawn and stored pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-4438 (Supp.1997) (since renumbered as A.R.S. § 13-610 (Supp.2007)), which required DNA samples to be collected and retained for sex offenders.   In 2000, DPS entered a DNA profile of McCray’s blood into its database.

¶ 5 A few months later, a Phoenix detective asked DPS to run a DNA test on the samples taken in 1987 from Cummins’s body.   A DPS criminalist identified DNA from semen in both the vaginal and oral samples and entered the DNA profile into the DPS database.   The DNA matched that of Frank McCray.   To verify the match, the criminalist prepared a new profile from McCray’s blood.   She found that it also matched the profile from the DNA in the semen on the samples taken from Cummins’s body.

¶ 6 McCray was indicted in 2001 for murder, sexual assault, and burglary.   The sexual assault and burglary charges were dismissed because the statutes of limitations had run.   In 2005, a jury convicted McCray of first-degree felony murder.   In the penalty phase of the trial, the jury found two aggravating factors:  McCray had been previously convicted of a felony involving violence, see A.R.S. § 13-703(F)(2) (1978 & Supp.1987), and the murder was especially cruel, id. § 13-703(F)(6).   After the jury determined McCray should receive a death sentence, the trial court entered a sentence of death by lethal injection.   This appeal followed.

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