Thoma said his opinion as to the cause of death was strengthened by other areas of bruising, suggestive of “multiple episodes of abuse,” although he conceded they had nothing to do with the suffocation.Thoma also said the boy’s bronchopneumonia “was not significant enough to have killed the child” and had nothing to do with his death. Daniel Joseph Spitz, a forensic pathologist and chief medical examiner for two counties in Michigan, as well as an assistant professor of pathology at Wayne State University, a clinical educator at Michigan State University, and a private consultant.
On the morning of February 16, 2012, 22-year-old Rodricus Crawford awoke to find his one-year-old son, Roderius, not breathing.The boy had split his lip and banged the side of his head, but seemed fine, Crawford said.Lott, the boy’s mother, testified that she saw a bruise on the right side of Roderius’s head on the morning of February 15—the day before he died—when she brought clothes for the boy and a suction device to clean the mucus from his nose.Spitz testified that Roderius was “not a healthy child," and was coughing, wheezing, and had a runny nose.Spitz also noted that a streptococcal infection was present in the blood, which indicated that Roderius “was, in fact, septic as a result of this infection." That condition "can cause significant cardiovascular consequences." Spitz said it was "implausible" to conclude that Roderius "just happened to be smothered in some untoward fashion."On cross-examination, the prosecution challenged Spitz’s credibility and reliability, noting that he had botched an autopsy in which he said the cause of death was undetermined.The boy, who had been suffering from what appeared to be a cold, had been sleeping with Crawford without incident during the prior two nights in Shreveport, Louisiana.Family members attempted CPR, but the boy did not respond and paramedics determined he was dead.The defense presented affidavits from a pediatric neuropathologist, a pediatric neurologist, and an expert in pediatric infectious diseases, all of which said that Roderius was the victim of bronchopneumonia.The experts said that the two primary bases for Traylor’s conclusion that the death had been a homicide were wrong.The defense presented affidavits from three theologians who said that the passage that Cox referred to was not a mandate that those who harm children must be put to death, but instead a warning about not leading the vulnerable faithful into sin. In 2014, while the case was on appeal before the Louisiana Supreme Court, lawyers for Crawford filed another motion for a new trial and asked that the case be remanded back to the trial court.The motion cited newly-discovered evidence that medical science did not support the prosecution’s theory of the circumstances surrounding Roderius’s death.