BRYAN - A man who said he was abused physically and sexually as he bounced from one foster home or orphanage to another pleaded guilty yesterday to robbing and killing a motel clerk last year.
Jason Crawford, 21, sat with his hands folded as he told a three-judge panel that he was responsible for robbing, kidnapping, and shooting Mary Kosier, 56, of Kunkle, a mother of four.
Crawford entered his guilty pleas the day his trial was scheduled to begin in Williams County Common Pleas Court. Judges Tony Gretick, Randall Basinger, and Robert Franklin will hear testimony again today on whether Crawford's life should be spared.
The panel could sentence the former Toledoan to death.
Prosecutor Craig Roth described Crawford's crime as cold and calculated.
He said Crawford staked out the Econo Lodge where Mrs. Kosier worked, robbed her of $130 on Dec. 7, 2000, then ordered her into a car trunk.
Mr. Roth said Crawford and a friend, James Jones, 18, drove to a rural location where Crawford ordered Mrs. Kosier to walk along a bridge embankment. He said Crawford shot her once in the neck.
“Mary fell dead to the ground,” Mr. Roth said.
From there, he said Crawford and Jones drove to a Bryan convenience store where Crawford robbed $400 from a clerk. Crawford held up the store because he needed $300 to pay a court fine later that day.
For both robberies, the prosecutor said Crawford wore a green mask, hooded sweatshirt, and white camoflauge paint on his face to disguise the fact that he is black.
Defense attorneys tried to shift the judges' attention away from the crime and toward Crawford's troubled past. They said he was rejected by his birth mother and shuffled throughout his entire childhood between orphanages and foster homes.
He was never adopted, despite attempts on television programs to find him a home.
“This is a young man who has never had a family,” said Dr. Jolie Brams, a clinical psychologist who has reviewed Crawford's life.
The defense expert said Crawford was taken from his mother as an infant because she was physically abusing him. He was then sent to live with friends of his family, where he was sexually abused for years.
At age 7, he was returned to his mother's care. But Dr. Brams said the abuse continued, as did the mother's rejection. “She purposely rejected Jason,” Dr. Brams said. “She basically hated him.''
Dr. Brams said Crawford then spent time in a Cleveland orphanage where doctors there recommended that he be placed in a structured environment.
That didn't happen, the doctor said.
Crawford went on to spend the next several years in different foster homes, some of which were eventually shut down by authorities.
It wasn't until the then-14-year-old was sent to a Bryan foster home that his life started to change. He received some counseling for alcohol abuse, and he bonded for the first time with a foster parent.
But Dr. Brams said Crawford struggled with living in Bryan, and later Pioneer, because he was one of only a few blacks in the predominantly white rural areas.
“It was basically for Jason, like placing him in a foreign country,'' she said.
Dr. Brams said Crawford, a man she described as soft-spoken, admitted to her that he had been drinking the night he killed Mrs. Kosier. He told her he did things while drinking that he would never do when sober.
The psychologist is expected to take the stand again this morning. Judges could begin deliberating in the death-penalty case as early as today.