A defendant’s trip to the hospital on Monday postponed what was supposed to mark the start of his death penalty trial for the 2012 death of a girlfriend he stabbed while her 9-year-old daughter played outside.
Louis Crawford, 47, of West Palm Beach, was headed to court Monday for the start of jury selection in his first degree murder trial when he suffered a health ailment that caused him to be rushed to the hospital. The hospitalization comes just four days after he rejected a plea deal that would allow him to plead guilty to a lesser 2nd degree murder charge.
Circuit Judge John Kastrenakes, who with Crawford’s case would have been presiding over his second death penalty trial in as many months, later revealed in court Monday that he suffered a sudden death in the family and would be traveling to be with relatives.
The judge set Crawford’s case for a calendar call April 25 and Assistant State Attorney Aleathea McRoberts and defense attorney Edward Reagan and Robert Gershman will begin picking jurors the following week.
Crawford is charged with first degree murder in the December 2012 death of his 36-year-old ex-girlfriend, Shandreka Wilkerson.
According to arrest reports, Wilkerson at the time of her death had recently moved into an apartment on 20th Street after she moved out of the home she shared with Crawford. She contacted police just two days before her death trying to get a restraining order because Crawford was allegedly posting threats against her on Facebook.
Just hours before her Dec. 14 death, Wilkerson called police again and told them she feared Crawford would find her because he had called the leasing office of her apartment complex posing as a worker with the Urban League of Palm Beach County who needed her exact address. Wilkerson told police someone from the office had called to warn her that a secretary in the office had in fact given the caller the address.
Wilkerson’s then 9-year-old daughter later told police that her mother warned her that Crawford may have found them and told her to be careful when she went out to play. The girl went to play, and when she returned, found her mother bleeding profusely from her chest.
Investigators say Wilkerson identified Crawford, who she called “Justin” as her killer before she died. Crawford later told police that he and Wilkerson got into an argument in the kitchen of her apartment and said he used a kitchen knife to stab her.