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D.C. tow-truck driver rejects plea offer in December slaying of robber

The D.C. tow-truck operator charged with murder after running over the man who robbed and pistol whipped him in December, rejected a plea deal offered by prosecutors Friday during a hearing in D.C. Superior Court.

Prosecutors offered Corey D. Stoddard, 35, a plea of one count of involuntary manslaughter in the Dec. 31 death of Kevin Lewis Crouch, 22, of Southeast Washington. Prosecutors said Couch had held up Stoddard and a co-worker with a BB gun and demanded money. Seconds after the holdup, authorities say, Stoddard hopped into his rig, drove on a sidewalk and struck Crouch, dragging Crouch’s body about 100 feet. Stoddard was originally charged with second-degree murder in the case, but Judge Russell Canan in January reduced the charges to voluntary manslaughter.

After Stoddard rejected the plea offer during Friday’s hearing, the judge then set a September trial. Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward O’Connell said authorities were still collecting evidence, including possible DNA of Crouch’s handprint on the windshield of Stoddard’s truck. Stoddard, O’Connell said, could face additional charges depending on the evidence.

Stoddard’s public defender, Eugene Ohm, maintains his client acted in self defense. Ohm later requested the judge to release Stoddard from overnight curfew so that his client could return to work. Ohm said Stoddard had been in compliance after being released from jail and put on high intensive supervision. But Ohm said his client’s income has been cut in half as a result of being ordered home overnight. Canan granted the request.

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Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.

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