Clear 21° Good Afternoon
Clear 21° Good Afternoon

Lucius Crawford is sane enough to stand trial in murders, judge rules

NEWS12 WESTCHESTER: Lucius Crawford of Mount Vernon, accused of killing three Westchester County women, has been ruled competent to stand trial. (Feb. 13, 2013)

Alleged serial killer Lucius Crawford -- the man arrested when two cold case detectives visited his Mount Vernon apartment to discover a corpse within -- is competent to stand trial for two murders, a Westchester County judge ruled Wednesday.

Dressed in a black leather coat and a blue dress shirt, with his hands cuffed behind his back, Crawford merely nodded his head as Judge Robert Neary announced the decision in his courtroom in White Plains.

Crawford's lawyer, Angelo MacDonald, said he hadn't had time to discuss with Crawford the results of mental evaluations done by two court-appointed psychologists. The evaluations were the basis for Neary's ruling.

"He's a little bit confused about things right now," MacDonald said.

Half a dozen friends and relatives of 41-year-old Tanya Simmons, the woman found stabbed to death in Crawford's basement apartment on Dec. 4, sat in the back of the courtroom during the session before Neary.

"We wanted to be as far away from him as possible," said Elizabeth Thompson, Simmons' cousin, of the defendant.

The family members said they were pleased that Crawford would have to stand trial.

"He knew what he was doing," said Waheevah Wajid, Simmons' aunt. "I'm glad that they found him competent."

Crawford, 60, is also accused of the 1993 slayings of Learonda Shealy and Nella West, both of Yonkers. Neary's ruling related to the slayings of Simmons and Shealy.

The Yonkers police cold case detective who arrested Crawford, John Geiss, sat by the courtroom door where Crawford entered and left in the grip of two armed court security officers. Crawford did not look at Geiss.

Neary agreed to remove himself as the judge in the case when MacDonald and Assistant District Attorney Paula Branca Santos pointed out to Neary that he was the head of the district attorney's homicide bureau when Shealy was killed and had visited the scene of her killing at the time.

Neary said, "I have no recollection of it." But he then agreed to assign the case to another judge.

Crawford is due back in court Feb. 19, in front of Judge Barbara Zambelli.

A spokesman for Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore declined to comment on the case.

MacDonald previously had said that Crawford's IQ had been determined to be 64 -- 100 is average. The attorney has suggested that the IQ finding calls into question whether Crawford knew what he was doing when he spoke to Yonkers, Mount Vernon and New York City police about the three slayings.

Crawford's criminal history dates back to 1973, when he was convicted of slashing four women in Charleston, S.C.

In April 1977, less than a year after he was released from prison, Crawford went on another knifing spree in Charleston, stabbing at least four women in five days. In June 1977, he was sentenced to 24 years in prison.

In 1991, having served 14 years, he was again released. He migrated north and later that year was charged in White Plains with punching an ex-girlfriend. He served about six months in Westchester County Jail and was released in December 1991.

Three years later, he was charged with attempted murder for stabbing a female Yonkers co-worker a dozen times. In March 1995, he was sentenced to 10-20 years in prison for that crime.

In February 2008, Crawford was released from Sing Sing prison and was to remain on parole until May 2014.

He has spent about 28 years in prison.

News Photos and Videos