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Prosecutors won’t retry man in death of his son

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — The Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office says it will not retry a man in the February 2012 death of his 1-year-old son after the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed the conviction.

Rodricus Crawford was sentenced to death in the death of Roderius Lott. In his original trial, his defense attorneys said the child was sick with pneumonia and died from sepsis. Prosecutors however convinced the jury that Crawford smothered his son.

Last November, the state’s high court reversed the conviction, vacated the death sentence and ordered a new trial.

Prosecutors said the decision not to bring charges again was based on an extensive review of the case and new evidence which raised questions about the degree of pneumonia together with bacteria in the child’s blood.

“While the coroner and this office stand by the determination that a homicide occurred the State has the burden of proving all elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In this circumstantial evidence case, the State must also exclude every reasonable hypothesis of any other crime or innocence factors. Therein lies the problem,” the statement said.

Crawford’s attorney, Ben Cohen, called the decision “a good day for justice.”

“This case has always been about injustice and the disproportionate use of the death penalty in Caddo Parish,” Cohen said. “In deciding not to retry Rodricus Crawford, the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s office is righting this injustice, restoring integrity to their office. The Promise of Justice Initiative hopes that this allows Rodricus Crawford an opportunity to grieve, move on with his life and — with help — put this all behind him.”

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