published Saturday, August 6th, 2011

Attorney appointed in Chattanooga beating death case

A man accused of beating and strangling a woman to death was appointed an attorney Friday and will return to court in early September.

Michael Crumpton, 49, who is charged with first-degree murder, went before Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern for his arraignment via video from the Hamilton County Jail.

Stern appointed attorney Wendy Stanfield to represent Crumpton and set the next court date for Sept. 8 to give Crumpton time to meet with his lawyer.

The public defender's office voiced concerns over a possible conflict in representing Crumpton because they previously represented Victoria Godwin, Crumpton's alleged victim. She was slain in her home in Emma Wheeler Homes public housing complex on June 7.

Witnesses told police Crumpton began choking Godwin and punching her in the back of the head. The beating continued until Godwin's body fell to the floor, where she was found lying motionless and unresponsive, police said.

Witnesses said they saw Crumpton run out of Godwin's apartment. He was arrested shortly after and has been jailed without bond since.

David Cox, Godwin's brother, was seated near the front of the courtroom with other family members on Friday.

"We don't want anything less than first-degree murder," he said after the proceedings. "He took her life. He took her life for no reason. She's a woman. He's a violent man in the first place."

Crumpton was released from federal prison at the beginning of the year, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website. He was convicted of carrying a firearm as a felon and sentenced to 17 1/2 years with five years of supervised release in June 1993, according to court records.

"Hopefully Judge Stern will stick to her name and be stern," Cox said. "If he could get life without the possibility of parole -- anything less than that we won't be happy with that."

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