When Robert Allen Cromwell struck his ex-fiancee four times in the head with an aluminum baseball bat on Nov. 2, he intended to kill her, a Lane County jury decided Tuesday.
It took 12 jurors less than an hour to unanimously agree that Cromwell killed Casey Lynn Wright, 26, while she was sleeping in a Springfield home that the two previously shared. Jurors also found the 33-year-old guilty of unlawful use of a weapon.
Deputy District Attorney Erik Hasselman told jurors during his closing arguments Tuesday morning that although hearing witness testimony and seeing crime scene photos may have felt surreal, the crime was "very real."
"This young woman is dead," Hasselman said. "Dead in a brutal fashion because the person who proclaimed that he loved her with all his heart made the unilateral decision that night that if he couldn't have her, no one would."
Cromwell stood and nodded his head multiple times while Lane County Circuit Judge Jodie Mooney read the jury's verdict. Cromwell's mother cried; friends and family members of Wright hugged her mother afterward.
Cromwell is expected to be sentenced Friday morning to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
Cromwell and Wright began dating in 2011 and became engaged a year later. Wright broke off the engagement in mid-October and moved out of the home they had rented together on the 800 block of 18th Street in Springfield.
Last week during his testimony, Cromwell said he believed they were going through a rough patch in their relationship but believed they would work things out.
He planned a romantic evening on Nov. 1, believing it was his chance to reconcile with Wright, he told the court. Wright, however, told him that night that she was seeing another man.
Cromwell said he searched through Wright's cellphone after she fell asleep in the early morning hours of Nov. 2 in hopes of learning more about her new relationship. He said he found text messages from the man Wright told him about and from another man whom Wright had previously dated.
He told jurors last week that he was overcome from "severe hurt" when he read through the messages.
Cromwell confessed to a Springfield police detective hours after the killing and told a nurse at McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center in Springfield that he killed Wright and then tried to commit suicide, according to trial testimony.
In a taped interview with detective Don Myers that was shown to the jury, Cromwell said he "just snapped" when he read the messages on Wright's phone. He told Myers that he didn't wake her up because he didn't want her to picture him as a monster.
"If there is an afterlife, I didn't want her to see me that way," he said in the interview.
Defense attorneys Marie Desmond and John Volmert argued that Cromwell did not intentionally kill Wright, but instead suffered an extreme emotional disturbance that caused him to lose control of himself. The attorneys said that Cromwell committed first-degree manslaughter, which carries a 10-year minimum mandatory prison sentence.
Volmert told jurors in his closing arguments that Cromwell was blindsided after reading the messages.
"It caused him to snap, caused him to lose it, caused him to have a meltdown," Volmert said.
Volmert described the killing as "horrific" and said it is "not something that will be forgiven."
"It has brought grief into the lives of many people," he said.
Hasselman referenced on Tuesday a series of text messages between Wright and Cromwell days before the killing. Wright repeatedly told Cromwell that she did not want to go to his house or have sexual encounters with him. Hasselman described Cromwell as a "controlling, demanding, hounding, relentless partner who will not take 'no' for an answer."
"Did you think about waking her up and confronting her?" Hasselman asked in his closing arguments. "Did you think about letting her go down the road because this relationship is not working for you? That's what an ordinary person would do."