At 1:30 a.m. on August 30, 1997, 21-year-old Rashawn Greer called paramedics to his apartment in Tulsa, Oklahoma after finding his two-month-old daughter, Lyric, unresponsive in bed. Emergency personnel were unable to revive the 10-pound baby and she was pronounced dead.
A distraught Greer told police that he and his wife, Jena, had moved into the apartment the day before with Lyric and their older daughter, Tara, who was 32 months old. He said that Jena put the children to sleep before leaving at 9:30 p.m. for a job at a convenience store. Greer said he was awakened by the sound of Tara crying because she had rolled off a couch where she was sleeping. When he went to check on Lyric, he found she was not breathing.
Authorities at first believed Lyric had died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but an autopsy received her skull was fractured and her death was classified as a homicide.
Greer was arrested in February 1998 and charged with first degree murder. He went on trial that summer in Tulsa County District Court. The prosecution contended that Greer was responsible for the skull fracture because he was the only adult present in the apartment. The prosecution showed several photographs of the baby during the autopsy.
Greer testified and denied harming the child. The defense attorney attempted to suggest that Tara was responsible for the injury.
On June 8, 1998, the jury convicted Greer and he was sentenced to life in prison.
In February 2000, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial. The court held that the autopsy photos of the baby were gruesome and highly prejudicial and that Greer’s defense attorney had provided inadequate legal assistance by failing to object to the photos being shown to the jury.
Greer went on trial a second time in 2001 with a new defense attorney, John Jay Dalton, who, for the first time, fully developed evidence regarding the time period when the injury was inflicted. The medical examiner testified during cross-examination that the injury was likely inflicted several hours before Greer discovered the lifeless infant—when Greer’s wife was still home and caring for the child—and when as many as eight to 10 others were helping move furniture in the apartment.
Greer did not testify, but the jury saw a video tape of his interview with police as well as an audiotape of his 911 call. Greer, in tears, told police that he knew of no accident or incident that would explain the injury to Lyric. On the 911 tape, Greer was hysterical, begging, “Please, baby, breathe for Daddy.”
On February 16, 2001, the jury deliberated for one hour before acquitting Greer and he was released from custody.
– Maurice Possley