Prosecutors: Autistic girl was strapped to board before death - FOX 13 News

Prosecutors: Autistic girl was strapped to board before death

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SARASOTA (FOX 13) -

Testimony continues today in the trial of a stepmom accused in the murder of an autistic girl.

Monday, jurors heard some graphic allegations about Melissa Stoddard's life. Prosecutors brought out a wooden board with 27 holes drilled into it. They said the 11-year-old was routinely bound to it.

Prosecutors said Misty, her stepmother, placed duct tape over her mouth to keep her cries from being heard. They called it torture and told the jury that Misty murdered her.

Some of Monday's witnesses included the first responders who arrived at the home after Misty called 911 to report that Melissa was unresponsive back in December of 2012.

"The first thing that I saw that seemed unusual was a mattress lying on the floor -- no sheets, no bedding, no pillow, no bed frame," recalled Deputy Michael De Leo. "I saw duct tape on the outlets, I also noticed a lot of scratch marks on the walls. I also noticed a piece of duct tape that was in the shape of a mitt."

At the time, first responders were focused on saving Melissa's life. She was taken to All Children's Hospital, but died a few days later.

Prosecutors showed pictures of Melissa hooked up to a machine as doctors tried to save her life.

They called police after noticing her injuries.

"It kind of like something was rubbing against it as if the skin was starting to peel off. Kind of looked like a scabbing," said Officer Jeffrey Kokinda with the St. Petersburg Police Department.

Many of the photos showed deep cuts on Melissa's arms and legs. Prosecutors said they were caused by restraints.

"Did she ever tell you at any time that Melissa was strapped to a board?" asked prosecutor Karen Fraivillig.

"No," responded Officer Kokinda.

The board was found later, in a field near the home. Prosecutors said Melissa's parents were trying to hide it.

The trial is expected to continue all week.

If found guilty, Misty Stoddard could face life in prison.

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