Suspect's confession played in slayings trial

Tribune reporter

Andre Crawford sat stone-faced as prosecutors played his videotaped confession to the brutal beating, rape and murder of Patricia Dunn, the first of 11 women he is charged with sexually assaulting and strangling.

"I decided to make this statement to apologize to Patricia's family first and, secondly, to reconcile my soul with God," Crawford could be heard saying on the recording. "Lord knows I need help."

Testimony began Tuesday in the trial of Crawford, 47, who could face the death penalty if convicted. The murders terrorized the New City neighborhood from 1993 until his arrest in January 2000. DNA evidence later linked him to seven of the murdered women as well as to the lone survivor, who was left for dead in an abandoned building, prosecutors said.

In the alleged confession recorded nearly a decade ago, Crawford calmly recounted how he met Dunn, 32, at 51st and Halsted streets in September 1993. After a short chat, he said, she agreed to have sex with him in exchange for cocaine.

Outside an abandoned factory a few blocks away, the deal supposedly soured when Dunn demanded to get high before having sex. Angered, Crawford struck her repeatedly in the head and face with pliers, then sexually assaulted her as she lay dying.

"I didn't feel comfortable continuing to rape her there by the puddle of blood, so I dragged her to a drier area," Crawford said in his statement. Relatives of Dunn and the other victims gasped aloud and cried softly as he explained in a matter-of-fact tone how he "took a nice walk and cooled off," smoked cocaine and then returned to sexually assault Dunn again.

Earlier, some jurors blanched visibly at photos of Dunn's body.

In her opening statement, Debra Seaton, one of Crawford's lawyers, cautioned jurors about his alleged confession to the 11 murders, noting the entire police interrogation was not recorded.

She also emphasized that the conviction and death sentence of another man for King's murder should cast doubt on the methods police used to obtain Crawford's statement. In addition, she stressed the absence of physical evidence in some of the cases, the presence of other suspects and the allegedly inconsistent statements by the lone survivor.

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