A Northeast Washington man charged in the starvation death of his 9-month-old son told police that he had not fed the child in the six days before the child was found dead in the man's apartment, according to a police affidavit submitted in court yesterday.
After a brief hearing in D.C. Superior Court yesterday, a commissioner ordered the man, Keith Lynn Roddy, 29, held without bond on a charge of second-degree murder.
After an autopsy yesterday, D.C. Medical Examiner James Luke ruled that the infant, Keith Roddy, who was found dead Wednesday on a bed at 2029 Benning Rd. NE, died of starvation "due to neglect." It was the first such death in the city since 1971, Luke said.
A second child, 2 1/2-year-old Lynn Roddy, was found, frail, standing in the living room of the apartment. He was suffering from malnutrition and dehydration, police said. The boy was listed last night in good condition at Children's Hospital, authorities said.
Police have said that Roddy, who was on probation from a narcotics conviction, said after his arrest that he was unemployed and unable to find food.
A charge of second-degree murder means the government will attempt to prove that Roddy committed the alleged offense with "malice aforethought," knowing that his son would die if he failed to feed him, prosecutors said.
Roddy's attorney, public defender Arthur Leavens, said at the hearing that the charge was not supported by the evidence. A preliminary hearing to determine whether the case will go to a grand jury is scheduled Wednesday before Judge Timothy C. Murphy, who will also consider whether Roddy's probation should be revoked.
Last October, Murphy released Roddy on probation after a heroin possession conviction over the objections of probation officials who, citing Roddy's record, recommended he not be released into the community, according to the court record.
At the hearing yesterday, a government prosecutor told Commissioner Joseph Sitnick that Roddy has a lengthy criminal record, including convictions for robbery and drug possession.
The mother of the children, Clara Turner, had been living apart from Roddy since December, relatives of Roddy said yesterday. Turner is not a suspect in the case, police said. She could not be reached for comment.
According to a government prosecutor at yesterday's hearing, Roddy drove Turner out of their apartment Dec. 10 after an argument. Roddy's mother, Lucinda, said yesterday she believes her son "just snapped" after the separation.
Roddy's sister, Aleta Darlene Roddy, expressed surprise yesterday over the death. "He loved his children very much," she said. "He was very kind and gentle."
According to court records, Roddy has a police record dating back to age 13. He was expelled from school in the eighth grade for misconduct and chronic truancy and served a total of two years and eight months in prison for robbery convictions in 1972 and 1978.
"I took him to church, tried to teach him the love of God," said Roddy's mother. "He had my number; he could have called me and I would have given him food."