Sarasota stepmother guilty in autistic daughter's death

Sarasota, Florida -- Misty Stoddard was found guilty Friday in the death of her 11-year-old autistic daughter, Melissa, who was restrained with a helmet and duct tape.

Misty Stoddard was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse of her stepdaughter.

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

"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."


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