A Michigan man who was 16 when he was sentenced to life without parole for battering and suffocating a 17-year-old boy before beheading him and videotaping himself mutilating his head was re-sentenced this week.
MLive.com reported that Circuit Judge Dennis Leiber upheld the original sentence handed down to Federico Luis Cruz, 39, in December 1997. Cruz admitted to killing David Lee Crawford, beheading him, and attempting to remove his heart “as a sacrifice to Satan.” He would go on to show the victim’s head to friends.
The Supreme Court decided in Miller v. Alabama that life without parole for juvenile offenders is considered cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. In light of the monumental June 2012 ruling, 367 Michigan prisoners condemned to life are eligible for re-sentencing.
On Monday, Cruz claimed he carried out the unthinkable April 1996 murder to gain acceptance into his friends’ “inner circle,” a group he said was into heavy metal and was seemed interested in things like “being in-serviced to the devil.”
“At the time, I thought that I could communicate with demons, with the spirits,” he explained, according to the outlet. “I had an Iron Maiden poster that was speaking to me and some other posters and they were talking to me, I believed they were talking to me. Looking back now it was just, I was making it up. It was imaginary.”
WZZM reported that Cruz struck up a conversation with Crawford while walking near some train tracks in Kent County. Cruz offered to show the victim some marijuana plants and bludgeoned him when he stepped on one of them. He returned 10 hours later to decapitate his body and prop up his corpse against a tree. He took the severed head home and videotaped himself talking to it—calling it “Eddie.”
Lacking remorse decades earlier, the now-39-year-old claimed he turned his life to God and called his teenage self a “coward.” The defense argued this week that Cruz’s life took a downward spiral when a male cousin molested him at age 10.
However, the re-sentencing judge cited forensic investigators’ testimony from the initial trial where they determined Cruz had an “average to above average IQ” and that he “failed to control his impulses” and “lacked basic human empathy,” according to MLive.com.
Lieber also considered Cruz’s lengthy record, his home life, and if he would’ve been charged with a lesser crime in 1996.
He said, “The circumstances of mutilation of a dead body and the reasons for it still mystify and elude me. But it is my conclusion that given the totality of circumstances, even affording any inference of a life more favorable to Mr. Cruz than before does not justify a re-sentence.”
[Featured image: Federico Luis Cruz/Michigan Department of Corrections; David Lee Crawford/WZZM screengrab]