Mother, 16, denies beating 20-month-old son to death

October 22, 1992|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

In the voice of a shy teen-ager, LaTonya T. Crawford, 16, yesterday swore that she did not beat her infant son to death two days before Christmas and that she doesn't know how he was injured.

Miss Crawford, who is being tried in Baltimore County Circuit Court for the Dec. 23, 1991, murder of Todd Crawford, told a jury of three men and nine women that when she told police she pushed Todd into a stroller Dec. 19, she didn't mean she pushed him hard or hurt him.

She said two Baltimore County homicide detectives questioned her for hours and insisted that she explain how young Todd sustained four broken ribs, a lacerated liver, punctured spleen and numerous bruises.

"I was trying to guess places where I touched him," she said yesterday. "I was guessing, telling them ways that I had touched Todd."

In 90 minutes of emotional testimony, Miss Crawford said she was in shock following her son's death, didn't mean some of the statements she made to police, and can't remember making some. She admitted telling police she blamed herself for Todd's death.

"I said, 'It's all my fault. I should have taken Todd to the hospital.' "

In her testimony, Miss Crawford said Todd appeared to be fine after the stroller incident, but was tired and did not eat normally over the weekend. On the following Monday morning, she said, she planned to take him to the hospital. Her aunt or her aunt's boyfriend was supposed to give her a ride to the hospital. At the time, Miss Crawford lived with her aunt in Turners Station. Before she could take her son to the hospital, she said she noticed he was cold and called 911.

Miss Crawford, who said she lived in numerous foster homes since age 7, also described how a 23-year-old stepbrother made her pregnant when she was 13. She said she had no prenatal care and didn't tell anyone until she was 7 1/2 months pregnant.

"When I went to see the doctor, I had the baby the next day," she said.

She testified that she never beat her 20-month-old son and would only smack him on the hand when he was bad.

However, when questioned by Louis Carrico, an assistant state's attorney, she admitted striking Todd in the chest once. That admission came only after Mr. Carrico told her that her sister, who witnessed the blow, would testify.

Detective Gregory Redmer interviewed Miss Crawford and recalled her saying that after the stroller episode, Todd was never the same. He said she sobbed openly.

"She repeated over and over, 'I killed my baby,' " he said.

Miss Crawford, who was a sophomore at Dundalk High School, has been in the Baltimore County Detention Center since being arrested Jan. 2. Her trial was to resume today.

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