Unjust Conviction Sparks Public Outcry to Release Rodricus Crawford
The September 7th Louisiana Supreme Court oral argument heard Rodricus Crawford's appeal attesting to his factual innocence. Attorneys Cecelia Kappel and Ben Cohen cited many examples of insufficient evidence presented by the Caddo Parish District Attorney's Office, as well as evidence of Mr. Crawford's innocence. Mr. Crawford's attorneys also criticized the notorious prosecutor, Dale Cox, for suggesting to the jury that Jesus Christ would impose the death penalty.
The story of Rodricus Crawford's unjust conviction has been captured nationally. Religious leaders have signed on to Rodricus Crawford's case with a brief which opposes the imposition of the death penalty in the case and to protest the DA's use of Jesus Christ to persuade jurors to convict the young man based on scant evidence.
The full hearing can be viewed and downloaded here.
Journalists, concerned community members, and Shreveport natives are not the only people asking how this tragic incident became a murder trial. The justices themselves wondered aloud at the hearing - Justice Jeannette Theriot Knoll asking several times "How did this become a first-degree murder case?" More questions centered around the minuscule amount of evidence, and the complete lack of motive Rodricus Crawford had to commit the alleged crime.
Justice Knoll notably said "With a child that has an autopsy had discovered had sepsis and ask that this man be put to death on weak circumstances. You don't even have a motive." Miles Jay Oliver specifically noted in his article in the Shreveport Times that the shaky pathology of the entire case was highly disputed by experts.
In addition to questioning Mr. Crawford's guilt in this case, the Louisiana Supreme Court Justices also brought up multiple errors in procedure by the state regarding evidence, and improper handling of jury selection- violating Batson using racial profiling during jury selection.
Yolanda Young, writing for The Shreveport Times, made a plea to Caddo Parish District Attorney James Stewart, to drop the charges in light of the lack of evidence and asked the citizens of Shreveport to become active in voicing opposition to Mr. Crawford's imprisonment by saying:
"What I'm asking is for us to join together on this one thing, to free this one man. Watch the hearing, and if you believe there is one shred of evidence that points to Crawford's guilt, so be it. But if you watch it, and see the truth in it, that this man is innocent, do something."