News 11.18.16

Death Row Case Reversed in the Deadliest Parish in Louisiana

By Innocence Staff

On Wednesday, Caddo Parish in Louisiana reversed the conviction and death sentence of Rodricus Crawford for the 2012 death of his young son.

According to the Advocate, the Louisiana Supreme Court ordered a new trial for Crawford based on evidence that his Constitutional rights were violated during the jury selection process at his first trial.

Crawford was convicted and sentenced to death based on the testimony of a medical examiner who claimed that Crawford “more likely than not” smothered his son despite the fact that tests later revealed that the boy had pneumonia and strep at the time of his death. You can read more about the case in this article in the New Yorker.

The Innocence Network, with help from the Innocence Project’s Strategic Litigation Unit, submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in the case arguing that the boy’s death was caused by sepsis, a sometimes fatal condition resulting from the pneumonia that infected all five lobes of the boy’s lungs.

While the court did not reverse Crawford’s conviction on those grounds, it found that his Constitutional rights were violated because black jurors were improperly excluded from serving on the jury. Rather than requiring the prosecution to give a race-neutral explanation for striking five of seven potential black jurors as required by the Supreme Court in Batson v. Kentucky, the trial judge merely provided his own explanation, which the Louisiana Supreme Court found unacceptable.

You can read the Advocate story here.

Related: Study Shows Most Death Sentences Handed Down in Louisiana are Reversed

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