Born 1988 (age 27–28)
Criminal charge Murder
Criminal penalty Death
Criminal status Awaiting execution
Parent(s) Mother: Abbie
Victims Roderius Lott, his infant son
Date February 16, 2012
Country United States
Location(s) 6800 block of Broadway, Shreveport
Imprisoned at Louisiana State Penitentiary
The prosecution of Rodricus Crawford attracted national media attention, because of extensive use of the death penalty in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, and comments made by the prosecutor. Rodricus Crawford, a young black man, was tried and sentenced to death in 2013 for killing his one-year-old son. The conviction greatly depends upon a disputed pathology report.
Crawford claims his son had been sleeping next to him, and was unresponsive when Crawford awoke in the morning. When police arrived, they asked about a bruise on the infant's lip. Crawford replied that his son had fallen in the bathroom the day before. Crawford denied that he had accidentally slept on top of his son.
That same day, James Traylor, a police pathologist determined that the bruise on the infant's lip indicated smothering and other bruises indicated child abuse. Traylor also noticed signs of pneumonia in the infant's lungs, but did not consider it serious enough to cause death. Based upon Traylor's conclusions, district attorney Dale Cox charged Crawford with homicide, and asked for the death penalty. The scientific validity of Traylor's conclusions has been questioned before, during, and after the trial.
Crawford is currently the second youngest man on death row, awaiting execution at Louisiana State Penitentiary, commonly called Angola.
2 Conflicting pathology reports
3 Trial and conviction
At age 23, Crawford had been living with his mother, brother, sister, grandmother, and uncle, in Mooretown, a neighborhood in Shreveport. The mother of his son is Lakendra Lott, a close friend Crawford had known since childhood. Both of them have daughters from other relationships. Lott lived with her family several houses away.
Conflicting pathology reports
Crawford's defense attorney Daryl Gold hired pathologist Daniel Spitz, who co-authored a pathology text book with his father Werner Spitz. The book is widely used in medical schools. Daniel Spitz determined the infant died from pneumonia. However, Spitz was not well prepared for prosecutor Cox's cross examination, especially when Cox's brought up a mistake Spitz had once made in another case. Since the trial, several other pathologists have questioned the scientific validity of the original conclusion that the infant died from suffocation. The case depends almost entirely on how to interpret complex pathology data.
Trial and conviction
Crawford was tried in Shreveport Louisiana and found guilty in November 2013. During the penalty phase of the trial, the defense called character witnesses, including his mother and brother. During cross examination, the prosecution brought up the facts that Crawford had dropped out of high school, had no job, and smoked marijuana, even though it was against the law. The same facts are also true for many of the other residents of his neighborhood.
Shreveport is the county seat for Caddo Parish, where juries have sentenced more persons to death than any other county in the United States. Prosecutor Cox, who won more than a third of death sentences in the county, has stated "I'm a believer that the death penalty serves society's interest in revenge." Cox also sent a letter to Crawford's probation officer, stating “I am sorry that Louisiana has adopted lethal injection as the form of implementing the death penalty. Mr. Crawford deserves as much physical suffering as it is humanly possible to endure before he dies.”
As Crawford's attorney expected, his first appeal was denied by the Supreme Court of Louisiana on November 14, 2014.