Friend: Crosby's death was natural

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A close friend of Ray Crosby's who found him dead in his home on Sunday afternoon said "It looked like everything was just fine" when he entered the former legislative bill-writer's home.

Former State Senator Danny Corbett, a friend of Crosby's since 1992, said he went to Crosby's home after his daughter told him she had trouble getting in touch with her father.

"I fully expected my friend to be alright," Corbett said on his expectation when he entered the home with keys from Crosby's realtor. The house had been up for sale.

Corbett said he entered Crosby's room and thought his friend was sleeping. "Then I moved closer and knew that wasn't the case."

"Nothing was disarrayed in the house at all. . . his phone was on the charger. There was no note."

On how he thought Crosby passed away he said, "I assumed it was natural causes."

Corbett described his relationship with Crosby as "very close" and said he usually had dinner with him at least once a week. During his three terms in the legislature, Corbett said he would spend time with Crosby outside the State House and that Crosby was his "go-to" person for writing legislation.

He said he had spoken with Crosby very recently about the trial and that he had expressed his optimism that the lone bribery charge against him wouldn't become a conviction.

Crosby had been charged on 13 counts ranging from conspiracy, to fraud, to bribery. Federal prosecutors alleged that Crosby used his position to earn $72,000 from Victoryland owner Milton McGregor for preferential treatment in writing legislation relating to electronic bingo.

11 defendants were charged in the alleged vote buying scheme including one other casino owner, Ronnie Gilley, and several current and former state lawmakers including Sen. Harri Anne Smith (I – Slocomb). Sen. Quinton Ross (D – Montgomery) was acquitted by a jury last summer of all charges against him.

Gilley and one other defendant, lobbyist Jarrod Massey reached plea deals with the United States and will be sentenced in April

The jury settled on no convictions for any off the nine defendants who went to trial. There were 91 acquittals and 33 mistrials. The retrial was set to begin Monday morning but the sudden death of Ray Crosby delayed the start of jury selection.

Crosby had all but one bribery charge dismissed by District Judge Myron Thompson who presided over the case. The jury found Crosby not guilty on all other charges.

Corbett, Crosby's friend who found him in his home, said of the government's attempt at a retrial to finalize the remaining charges, "You don't just crush people like they try to do."

"I hope that the prosecutors go home and take a look in the mirror." Corbett said.

Corbett said he's not sure if there was anything he could have done to save Crosby's life.

"I wish I got there earlier." Corbett said. "I wish I could have helped my friend."

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