PUBLISHER'S VIEW: (EDITORIAL);
Reporter Gary Hines says distinctly in a KTBS story: "The Caddo district attorney's office earlier this month dropped charges, based in large part on medical evidence showing Crawford's son died of an illness, not trauma-- as claimed by Caddo Coroner Dr. Todd Thoma and his forensic pathologist." KSLA investigative reporter Domonique Benn dug deeper into the flawed medical investigation that led to the murder charge, Rodricus's conviction, and more than three hellish years on death row for him and his family. "According to the autopsy conducted by the Caddo Parish Coroner's Office, Roderius Lott died of smothering. However, defense attorneys for the child's father say the Coroner's office ignored critical evidence that the child died of natural causes. "This was not a homicide, this child died of pneumonia and sepsis and Dr. Traylor was dead wrong," Kappel says. Dr. Traylor was the pathologist who ruled the baby's death a homicide. When asked to comment on the autopsy, Traylor would only point to his findings submitted to the court as evidence during the trial. In the autopsy report, Dr. Traylor cited a small cut under the baby's top lip as evidence of smothering. Defense attorneys say the injury came from a fall and was not evidence of a homicide. They say Roderius fell down in the bathroom and cut his lip the day before he died and that the real cause of the child's death was his failing health. It's evidence they say is backed up by tissue and blood samples. "He missed the fact that this child had brain swelling, which indicated he did not die of smothering," says Kappel. "He didn't perform testing on the bruising on the child which could have pinpointed the moment those bruises occurred instead of assuming that Mr. Crawford inflicted those injuries." Kappel adds that Dr. Traylor testified that the little boy had pneumonia, but that it was not serious enough to kill him. When questioned on the stand about the bacteria found during the autopsy, Kappel says Traylor testified that the results would have indicated sepsis if they were accurate but also said that his needle could have been contaminated. "So based on his testimony either this child died of sepsis and this was not a murder or his autopsy was contaminated. Either way, we can't have any confidence in this verdict," concludes Kappel. Nine other doctors around the country agreed that Roderius Lott died from sepsis." Instead of acknowledging that they got it wrong, terribly wrong, The Caddo Parish District Attorneys Office constructed an alternate truth - something in vogue in America these days - that the State could somehow have convicted Rodricus and even members of his family of criminally negligent homicide. As per the press release: "Rodricus Crawford was a chronic and heavy abuser of marijuana. This fact was well known to his family members as well as the fact the child had experienced multiple respiratory infections in his brief life. Crawford was provided a suction device to clear the child's sinuses/nasal passages. Bruising of the lips as noted in the autopsy could possibly be ascribed to use of this device while he was in a drug-induced impaired state. Also, the fact that Crawford could have rolled onto the child in a drug intoxicated state and suffocated the child is a reasonable possibility the State had to consider. These reasonable possibilities all point to a criminally negligent homicide." 'Criminally negligent homicide'? That is utterly outrageous! If you want to talk negligence talk about pathologist Dr. James Traylor, who Rodricus' lawyers alleged in The Supreme Court of Louisiana had made a diagnosis of homicide before he did the tests that determined that Rodricus' son had pneumonia and tested positive for sepsis, and who didn't bother to age the bruising that he said he found on the lips. The perverse suggestion that Rodricus and his family could have avoided all this if they had taken Roderius to the hospital to check out Roderius' cold. It's perverse because most parents have to make the decision as to whether they should take a sick child to hospital from time to time. Most of the time it works out, The child gets better. In a few cases, sadly this one, the child does not. And that makes Roderius and his family criminally negligent! Blaming Rodricus and his family for the disease that took his son is utterly cruel. It is also perverse because on the appeal, the prosecutor took the position that Roderius didn't show signs of illness that indicate sepsis. (On appeal, they didn't want Roderius to appear ill. On withdrawal of the murder charge they did. Give me a break.) A last point: When asked by a reporter about Rodricus Crawford seeking restitution, District Attorney James Stewart is quoted as saying: “the only truly innocent party is the deceased infant. It seems sinful to try and profit from this tragic loss.” This is rubbish. Roderius is sadly dead because of a killer disease. The only innocent party is Rodricus. When his murder conviction was vacated by The Supreme Court of Louisiana and ordered a new trial he returned to his status of presumed innocent. Rodricus deserves compassion for the loss of his son, and help to readjust after a horrible experience in Louisiana's criminal justice system, including more than three years on death Row in the notorious Angola prison known as 'the farm' which threatened to be his last address.
Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/