Stepmother's trial begins in autistic girl's murder

Sarasota, Florida -- The state attorney had some gruesome opening statements Monday in the murder trial of 11-year-old Melissa Stoddard.

Misty Stoddard is accused of first degree felony murder and aggravated child abuse of her stepdaughter who was also autistic.

The Florida state attorney Karen Fraivillig told jurors they will believe Stoddard is guilty by the end of the week after she calls several witnesses to testify.

"Melissa Stoddard was dead because she was tied to a board with straps and duct tape by Misty Stoddard and Kenneth Stoddard," said Fraivillig. "She was dead because they put a helmet on her head which you will see here in the courtroom. The helmet was tied down so she couldn't move her head. She is dead because Misty Stoddard routinely put duct tape over Melissa Stoddard's mouth to prevent her from screaming and talking."

Mark Brewer, the defense attorney for Stoddard, asked the jury to stay "open-minded."

"You heard in the opening statement many references to what would happen by Misty and Ken Stoddard,' said Brewer. "Misty and Ken Stoddard. But as this goes on you'll find out that Ken Stoddard was the natural father. That Ken Stoddard was the person who bought the board, who made the board. Ken was the adult who got rid of the board."

The first witness was a paramedic from Sarasota who was there on the day Melissa Stoddard was found unresponsive. The state attorney said he is one of several who will prove why Stoddard is guilty of killing her stepdaughter.

The trial will last for one week.


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