Alleged serial killer found competent to stand trial; judge recuses himself from case | Pappalardo & Pappalardo LLP

02/13/2013

Alleged serial killer found competent to stand trial; judge recuses himself from case

Angelo MacDonald, experienced trial attorney at Pappalardo & Pappalardo, appeared today with client Lucius Crawford before the Hon. Robert Neary in the Westchester County Court, where it was announced that Crawford is competent to stand trial for the murder of two women, one killed in 1993 and the other in 2012.

Also at today’s appearance, Judge Neary recused himself from the case, as the judge had investigated the 1993 homicide as an Assistant District Attorney with the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office. The Recusal Order, filed today with the Westchester County Clerk, states that the parties had drawn “the Court’s attention to certain facts that could result in an appearance of impropriety should the Court continue to preside over this matter.” The case will now be heard before the Hon. Barbara Zambelli.

At Crawford’s arraignment on the indictment on January 28, Angelo MacDonald suggested that Crawford may be mentally disabled, referring to a doctor’s report that indicated Crawford’s IQ is 64 with a classification of mild mental retardation. Crawford has been found competent to stand trial after a mental health evaluation pursuant to Criminal Procedure Law § 730, where he was examined by two psychologists.

Crawford was indicted by a Westchester County grand jury for the December 2012 murder of 42-year-old Tanya Simmons in Mount Vernon, and the 1993 murder of 23-year-old Learonda Shealy in Yonkers. Crawford has also been indicted in the Bronx for the 1993 murder of 38-year-old Nella West, and the press have called Crawford a “serial killer.”

Angelo MacDonald is a seasoned trial attorney who has tried more than 60 homicide cases as both an Assistant District Attorney in Bronx County and as a defense attorney. MacDonald is a member of Westchester County’s 18-b Assigned Counsel Homicide Panel and is representing Crawford on the Westchester murder charges.

Crawford has been charged in Westchester with two counts of Murder in the Second Degree in connection with Simmons’ and Shealy’s deaths, as well as two weapons possession charges. Murder in the Second Degree under Penal Law § 125.25(1) is a class A-I felony, and for persistent violent felony offenders could carry a sentence of 25 years or possible life imprisonment. Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree under Penal Law § 265.02(1) is a class D felony, and for persistent violent felony offenders could carry a sentence of 5 to 7 years or possible life imprisonment.

According to reports, on December 4 detectives arrived at Crawford’s residence in Mount Vernon to investigate the 1993 murder of West. Crawford is said to not have been home at the time, but police entered the apartment and discovered the body of Simmons. Allegedly, his parole tracking ankle bracelet had been removed and found at the scene. Crawford was arrested approximately three hours later in Mount Vernon. It is alleged that while in custody, Crawford implicated himself in not only the Mount Vernon murder but also the Yonkers and Bronx cold cases. MacDonald has indicated his client has denied his involvement in the murders.

Reports indicate that Crawford has a criminal history dating back to 1973 involving various assaults on women in both New York and South Carolina, and that Crawford has spent nearly 30 years in custody. Crawford was released on parole in 2008 after spending 13 years in prison for the attempted murder of a 31-year-old Westchester woman in 1994.

Crawford’s next date in Westchester County Court is scheduled for February 19 before the Hon. Barbara Zambelli.

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