Older but Bitter

Sixty-eight-year-old Wanda Crawford hasn't killed anyone yet. But authorities say it's not for lack of trying.

The jury awarded Stephanie damages of $1.8 million.
Crawford's daycare business had been insured for $500,000. The rest of the money, Ezell hoped, would come from Crawford herself, in the form of assets--her $100,000 house on Rushmore, for example.

But Ezell and the De La Rosas were mistaken if they thought they'd have an easy time collecting. Crawford, Ezell discovered, had placed the title to her home in a trust after she'd been arrested. She named a Colorado Springs attorney as trustee and designated that he hold the title for five years, at which time it would be released to her. "We think we can show that it was a fraudulent transfer intended to defeat her creditors," Ezell says. But that will take time.

The matter of Crawford's insurance policy is just as muddy. "The insurance company is trying to say that they don't owe us the money because [the abuse of Stephanie] was an intentional act, and they do not cover intentional acts," Ezell says. "It's our position that the criminal jury found Crawford to be reckless and the civil jury found her to be negligent."

It could be years before Ezell is able to recover any of the money due Stephanie.

After learning of Darnell and Crawford's arrest on murder conspiracy charges, Lisa Kirkman Werner asked her boss, El Paso County District Attorney John Suthers, for a favor. She wanted to prosecute the case. Kirkman Werner had won a conviction against Crawford once, and she wanted a second shot at her--even though she'd since lost a taste for handling such cases. As the former head of the DA's child-abuse unit, Kirkman Werner had burned out on the depressing business of dealing with battered babies. And after giving birth to a son three years ago, she found the duties even more stressful.

But she felt compelled to take the De La Rosas' case, says Kirkman Werner. She couldn't turn her back on the family after she'd seen what Crawford did to Stephanie. "When you look at her," the prosecutor says of the little girl, "it just breaks your heart."

A January 14 trial date has been set for Crawford and Darnell on the murder conspiracy charges. And the two have gotten their wish to be reunited. Today husband and wife both reside in the El Paso County Jail.

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