A petition, set up on
'Color of Change' by supporter Marlene Belliveau on behalf of
Rodricus Crawford's family, implores Caddo Parish District Attorney
Stewart, "to look at the concrete evidence and facts before you. Mr
Crawford did not kill his son. You have sworn to justice...it is your
duty to exonerate this young man." The petition can be found at the following link. (In
view of the rapidly approaching appeal - set for Wednesday September 7 -
supporters should get their message to Mr. Stewart as soon as possible.
HEADING: "Rodricus Crawford: Louisiana: Series Two: (Part (3); A series of posts in anticipation of his up-coming appeal - set for Wednesday September 7, 2016;
REPORT: 'Too broken: An in-depth look at America's outlier death penalty counties' published by the Fair Punishment Project; August, 2016.
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Rodricus Crawford's appeal is set for Wednesday, September 7, 2016. It is imperative that public attention be brought to this appeal as there is a ominous danger that Louisiana will be executing an innocent father whose 1-year-old son died of pneumonia - unless the Louisiana Supreme Court intervenes. (Contrary to the the testimony of the pathologist testifying for the prosecution who dismissed the medical factors as the cause of death without a scientific basis for doing so, also gave his equally unscientific opinion that Rodricus Crawford had smothered Roderius to death - as is demonstrated by forensic evidence (affidavits) filed by his lawyers which will be published later in this series.) As will be seen over the course of the series, it didn't help that Crawford was prosecuted by the notorious Dale Cox in Caddo Parish, which, as the Fair Punishment Project reports, has a disproportionate number of death sentences. I implore whoever reads these posts to share them as widely as possible, to make sure that Louisiana's Supreme Court understands the urgency of stopping this execution in its tracks and put an end to the prosecution. This third post focuses on a brief filed by the Innocence Project with the Louisiana Supreme Court which explains how the medical science established that Rodricus Crawford was innocent. The brief, field as 'Amicus' to the court, indicates that Nine separate doctors have provided affidavits, reports or testimony, asserting that it is unlikely that this case was a homicide let alone a first degree murder. The only basis for the State’s conviction is the claim of a single doctor, that more likely than not, it was a homicide. This is not the kind of confidence expected of America's justice system when assessing a misdemeanor, let alone a capital case.
GIST: "The death of one-year-old Roderius Lott was a tragedy. But that tragedy would be compounded beyond measure if his father, Rodricus Crawford, were executed for a death that resulted not from suffocation, as the prosecution's medical witnesses claimed, but from a fatal illness. The medical literature assembled for this amicus brief establishes that Roderius' death was caused by sepsis, a sometimes fatal condition resulting from the pneumonia that infected all five lobes of Roderius' lungs. That literature establishes that sepsis is a tragic and too common cause of death in infants. It establishes that, untreated, death from sepsis can occur in a matter of hours, often without warning. And the objective medical evidence from Roderius' autopsy found the signs that a pathologist would expect to find in an infant who succumbed to this disease. Employing reasoning that lacks any foundation in medical science, the prosecution's witnesses, Dr. Traylor and Dr. Thoma, rejected this obvious explanation of the cause of Roderius' death. Dr. Traylor claimed that Roderius was protected from pneumonia because Roderius had received one dose out of the three dose regimen of pneumonia vaccine. But that claim has no basis in accepted medical science- simply put, there is a reason why three doses are required. Dr. Traylor claimed that Roderius could not have died from sepsis because Roderius did not display labored breathing or a serious fever. But the medical literature establishes that death from sepsis can result quickly, with few if any symptoms or warning. Dr. Traylor claimed that Roderius did not die of sepsis because one virulent form of bacteria, Streptococcus pneumoniae, could not be identified in Roderius' blood sample. But the medical literature establishes that four tests are required to identify Streptococcus pneumoniae; the lab ran only one. And both Dr. Traylor and Dr. Thoma claimed that Roderius did not die of sepsis because he did not display severe symptoms before he went to bed the night he died. But the medical literature establishes that sepsis can kill infants quickly and without warning...The medical literature also establishes that Dr. Traylor violated standard medical protocol: he failed to examine slides of the bruised and abraded tissue on the inner part of Roderius' lips under a microscope. This most basic of tests would have established the timing of the injuries and whether they were the result of the bathroom fall that Roderius suffered the day before he died. In short, if Dr. Traylor had simply examined the bruised tissue under a microscope, or for that matter, preserved the tissue so that the defense expeti could have done so, medical science would have established with objective evidence that the inner lip injuries were caused by a prior fall, instead of a crime. How could Dr. Traylor and Dr. Thoma be so wrong? The scientific literature explains that as well. Forensic testimony is prone to error because medical experts are susceptible to confirmation bias, a condition where experts begin an investigation with preconceived expectations and theories, and, as a result, focus only on evidence that supports those theories, ignoring or explaining away evidence to the contrary. That is what happened here. Dr. Traylor reached his erroneous conclusion before he viewed the tissue slides showing that Roderius was suffering from pneumonia and before he received the lab results establishing the presence of a blood infection. The result was that both doctors' opinions were tainted by the sort of bias that has resulted in the conviction and even the execution of innocent defendants. But in this case, the prosecution's medical witnesses were not merely prone to bias, they admitted to it. Dr. Traylor went into the autopsy "thinking" that the death was a homicide and concluded that Roderius' tragic death was a homicide before he had all the facts. Dr. Thoma started with that presumption and never re-examined it when evidence to the contrary came in. The defense medical expert, Dr. Daniel Spitz, provided the jury with accurate medical science. But he was not cross-examined on the science. He was cross-examined on his compensation, on whether he made a mistake in a single case, whether he performed more autopsies than recommended in a given year, on whether he was riding on the reputational coattails of his father, an equally renowned forensic expert. As a result, a search for the truth devolved into a grandstanding sideshow and the jury accepted demonstrably erroneous claims that came from the mouths of misguided witnesses- one of whom, Dr. Traylor, self-righteously claimed to be the "voice of the victim." Louisiana courts require that every reasonable hypothesis of innocence be excluded. Every reasonable hypothesis cannot be excluded here. For the reasons discussed below, it is incumbent upon this Court to exercise its obligation to review the sufficiency of the scientific evidence that lies at the heart of this case with particular care and, upon that review, vacate the conviction and assure that Rodricus Crawford is not put to death on the basis of testimony that has no basis in medical science."
The entire report can be found at the following link; Brief