Tow truck driver charged with murder after police say he ran down man who robbed him

Kevin Lewis Crouch walked into a tow lot in Northeast Washington on Tuesday afternoon and asked about a green car. But D.C. police said the 22-year-old man quickly pulled a gun on the tow truck driver who was trying to help him and demanded money.

The driver began to run but tripped and fell, police said, and Crouch struck him twice in the head with the butt of his gun. The driver then heaved his wallet against a fence in the lot on Kenilworth Avenue.

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As Crouch went to grab the wallet, police said, the driver climbed into his white Isuzu tow truck and then fatally struck his assailant. On Wednesday, the victim of the armed robbery became a criminal suspect, as police charged Corey D. Stoddard, 35, of Northeast Washington, with ­second-degree murder while armed, his tow truck being the weapon.

Police said that Crouch was dragged along a sidewalk and that authorities found a pellet gun broken into three pieces under his body when they rolled him over to provide first aid. The death was ruled a homicide late Tuesday — the 104th and final slaying in the District last year.

At Stoddard’s initial appearance in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday, a judge ordered him released and placed in a high-intensity supervision program, meaning he must wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 22. Neither Stoddard nor his relatives could be reached for comment Wednesday. A person who answered the phone at the towing company, next to a gas station on the busy road that runs parallel to the Anacostia Freeway, declined to comment. No lawyer was listed on the court docket.

In 2012, Stoddard was charged in the District with driving on a suspended license and possession of drugs; those charges were dismissed in September after court records show he successfully completed a drug treatment program and performed community service.

Crouch, who lived in Southeast Washington, was convicted in 2009 in a carjacking in Prince George’s County, online court records show. He was 17 when he committed the offense and was held as an adult. Prosecutors dropped several gun and assault charges as part of a plea agreement, court records show. He was sentenced to four years, which were served in a youth facility.

Attempts to reach Crouch’s relatives were unsuccessful Wednesday.

The police report said the incident began about 12:45 p.m. as Stoddard was helping a customer remove a license plate from a vehicle. The report said Crouch walked into the lot and asked the customer, “Do you have a green car here?”

Stoddard interjected, telling Crouch that the man didn’t work at the lot, and adding, “We don’t have any green car here.”

He then asked Crouch, “Who told you we have your car here?”

Crouch answered with an expletive, the police report said, and pulled out a dark-colored gun and pointed it at Stoddard. “Give the [expletive] up,” Crouch said, according to the police report.

The customer ran to the back of the parking lot, hid behind a car and called police on his cellphone.

Another employee who was nearby also ran. Police said Stoddard tried to run but slid near a gate in a fence and fell to the ground. “Crouch ran to Stoddard and struck him twice on the head with his pistol,” the police report said. “Stoddard then pulled out his wallet and threw it toward the fence and ran in the opposite direction.”

Police said a witness saw Crouch run to the fence and apparently pick up the wallet. “Stoddard stated to officers that he ran back to the tow truck, which was parked on lot,” the report said. “He stated further that he got in the tow truck and ran over Crouch . . . by the corner of the fence.”

Police said Crouch was dragged along a sidewalk and died less than three hours after arriving at a hospital in Prince George’s County.

 
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