Posted on December 1, 2011

Murder Defendant Told Police He Punched Child Who Died in Cahokia

Nicholas J.C. Pistor, STL Today, November 29, 2011

When 6-year-old Ryon Smith wasn’t locked in his mother’s closet inside her Cahokia home, he was being beaten by her live-in boyfriend, prosecutors told a jury today.

Ryon was found dead with bruises and abrasions covering his body on Christmas Day 2005, they said, opening their first-degree murder case in St. Clair County Circuit Court here against that boyfriend, Lee Crutchfield.


Crutchfield described how Ryon was a difficult child who often hurled racial insults at him. Crutchfield is black, the boy’s mother is white.

“I can’t stand to be around a child that is disrespectful,” Crutchfield told police.

He alleged that the boy would fake seizures and urinate all over the house. The boy was given a diaper and often locked in a closet, police said.

Crutchfield said he punched Ryon twice in the head because the boy was biting his finger about two days before he was found dead.

Ryon died from blunt force trauma, prosecutors said. {snip}

The boy’s mother, Starr Lohman, also is charged with first-degree murder but is reported to have reached an agreement for a reduced charge in return for testifying against Crutchfield.