Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Custodial dad, step charged with murdering 11-year-old daughter have complaints about their lawyers (Sarasota, Florida)

Boohoo for Misty the Step. She and the custodial father, KENNETH STODDARD, managed to torture this poor child to death within MONTHS of gaining custody.

UPDATE: Autistic girl's stepmother says lawyers not sharing information

By Gabrielle Russon

Published: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 2:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 8:33 p.m.

SARASOTA - Misty Stoddard, who is accused of killing her stepdaughter, said she has been left in the dark of the details of her case when she tried unsuccessfully to fire her defense team Tuesday.

“I feel like I should be able to talk to my attorney,” said Stoddard, who spoke in shackles during Tuesday's hearing in Sarasota County Circuit Court.

“I just feel completely uninformed. “I just don't know how I'm supposed to have confidence in lawyers to defend me when they're dishonest in this courtroom."

Stoddard, along with her partner Kenneth Stoddard, are being tried in connection to the death of Melissa Stoddard. Melissa, 11, moved into their house during the summer of 2012, and within months, the child had died from lack of oxygen to the brain, the medical examiner's office ruled.

Court documents detailed how Melissa was ostracized from her half-siblings and allegedly abused. She was deprived of food and removed from Oak Park School. To control her, the Stoddards allegedly tied her to a board and duct-taped her mouth to keep from crying out. Melissa, who had autism and was known for her tantrums, died Dec. 17, 2012.

While Judge Frederick Mercurio called Misty Stoddard's concerns “legitimate,” he said her court-appointed attorneys were working on her case and progressing.

The issue stemmed from an eight-page confidential letter Stoddard wrote in December to her legal team from the Office of Regional Counsel, listing her concerns and questions with her case.

Her defense attorney, David Taylor, said he and his team discussed her letter and some of what she wrote does not fit into their legal strategy.

“There's certain things in the letter we believe is not appropriate for us to do,” Taylor said, adding they had spoken with her about it.

However, Stoddard said she felt her issues went unaddressed for months. At times, she folded her hands in front of her or tapped her foot, looking annoyed next to Taylor in the courtroom. “I sit there with these questions and concerns about my case,” the 37-year-old Sarasota County woman said to the judge.

“I feel like they have all their other cases they're working on and I understand, it's not their lives and it may not be important to them, but it's important to me.”

Also in Tuesday's court hearing, attorneys on both sides asked for Kenneth Stoddard's trial to be delayed from April 7 until August because of a crowded court docket this spring and summer.

Of the Stoddard couple, Misty could be the first to stand trial.

When her trial is expected to start June 16, she will be facing a first-degree murder charge, although the prosecutor's office is not seeking the death penalty.