Lucius Crawford, alleged serial killer, pleads not guilty in 2 Westchester slayings
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Alleged serial killer Lucius Crawford on Monday denied he murdered a Mount Vernon woman in December and a Yonkers woman in 1993.
But court documents show he told a detective working on the case, "You stab one, stab 'em all."
Crawford, 60, pleaded not guilty to the crimes before Judge Barbara Zambelli in Westchester County Court in White Plains.
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Crawford has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of third-degree weapons possession in the two stabbing deaths.
In response to a request from Crawford's attorney, Angelo MacDonald, the judge ordered Crawford to undergo a mental health evaluation.
Crawford stabbed Tonya Simmons, 41, to death at his Beekman Avenue apartment in Mount Vernon on Dec. 4, prosecutors said. He then left and dialed 911 twice to report that someone was hurt there.
Police found Simmons' body in Crawford's apartment with wounds to the torso, according to officials.
A DNA match also linked Crawford to the Sept. 13, 1993, stabbing death of LaRonda Shealy, 23, of Yonkers.
A Bronx grand jury also has indicted Crawford in the October 1993 slaying of Nelia West, 38.
Crawford told police he killed West in Yonkers and dumped her body just over the city line in Riverdale, a law enforcement source told Newsday in December.
MacDonald said after the hearing that he might ask a judge to dismiss the indictment because the two slayings took place nearly 20 years apart.
"My feeling is the DA should have done separate presentations to the grand jury because of the 20-year gap," he said. "It could be a way of buttressing two weak cases."
Family members of two of Crawford's alleged victims were in court when Crawford was led in by security officers, his hands cuffed in front of him. Dressed in a blue button-down shirt and tie and black dress pants with white sneakers, Crawford did not look at the dozen or so members of the families of Tonya Simmons and Laronda Shealy.
Shealy's mother, Arlene Perkins, said she did not know Crawford was her daughter's alleged killer until he was arrested Dec. 4 and she saw his picture. Then, she said, she realized she had seen him several times before, even passing by him on the street.
"I didn't know him," she said. "But he's a very sick individual. I know that now ... somebody who can do that to so many women for so many years."
Simmons' aunt, Waheebah Wajid of Beacon, said Crawford never should have been let out of prison after his 1977 conviction in South Carolina for stabbing five women. He served 14 years of a 24-year sentence before he was paroled in 1991.
"It's no justice," Wajid said. "It's ridiculous that the system should fail like that."
Police said Crawford has confessed to the three killings for which he has been indicted.
In police documents containing Crawford's statements to detectives after his arrest Dec. 4, Crawford apologized to his victims.
"I do not know why I stabbed any of the women," Crawford said, according to the statements released Monday by the district attorney's office. "I have a demon inside me and I just snap."
At another point, Crawford told a detective, "You stab one, stab 'em all," according to the documents.
MacDonald said he has doubts about whether Crawford voluntarily made such statements, citing his client's mental history.
"We received medical reports from the early 1990s, and they indicated he had an IQ of 64 and was moderately mentally challenged," he said.
After entering his plea, Crawford was returned to Westchester County Jail in Valhalla. He is scheduled to return to court before Judge Robert Neary on Feb. 13.
Crawford already has spent about half his life in prison for other, nonfatal stabbings of women.
He faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison on each of the murder charges.
With The Associated Press