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Last Updated: Friday, 15 July, 2005, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
Man shoots postman to get jailed
Injured postman Earl Lazenby with his wife
Postman Mr Lazenby said the man took his letters before shooting him
A US man shot his postman so that he would get sent to prison for life and escape his crippling medical debts, investigators say.

William Crutchfield shot 59-year-old postman Earl Lazenby in Snellville, Georgia, two weeks ago.

He greeted the postman and collected his letters before lifting his pistol and shooting him seven times.

Mr Lazenby survived the attack but the shots punctured his colon and intestine and fractured bones in an arm.

After shooting Mr Lazenby, the 60-year-old electrical contractor drove to the police station and confessed.

'Inspired by bomber'

Mr Crutchfield told police that he shot the postman as a way of escaping medical debts of $90,000 (51,000).

He said he feared losing his home and thought that living in prison would be better than surviving on the street.

"He was saying that he wanted to be cared for by the federal government, that he was in poor health and wanted to be taken care of," Atlanta postal inspector Tracey Jefferson said.

Mr Lazenby told the Associated Press news agency: "He took his mail and then said 'Hello'. And then just started shooting."

He said the man then "casually got into his car and drove away".

Mr Crutchfield reportedly told police that he had been inspired by following the fate of Atlanta Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph.

Under an April 2005 deal, Rudolph received four life sentences without parole.

During his first court appearance Mr Crutchfield asked if he could plead guilty twice.

"I'd like to get to where I'm going and start doing my time," he told the judge.

Mr Crutchfield remains in jail charged with attempting to kill a federal employee.

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