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Father gets 25 years in baby's death

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A 29-year-old special education teacher was sentenced to 25 years yesterday for beating to death his 7-week-old daughter in their Reisterstown home.

Orlandus E. Giddens was sentenced by Baltimore County Circuit Judge J. Norris Byrnes after Giddens' mother and aunt blamed the death on the baby's mother.

"What was said in this courtroom is a lie," said Juanita Brooks, Giddens' aunt.

"Orlandus is not the type of person to hurt anyone," added Cleo Giddens, his mother.

But Assistant State's Attorney Jill Savage said Giddens' refusal to acknowledge guilt makes it more difficult for the victim's mother and maternal grandmother to deal with the death.

"We have a defendant who takes no responsibility for what he did," Savage said.

Giddens, a former art teacher at the private Strawbridge School in Randallstown, was convicted by a jury in June of second-degree murder in the 1999 death of Sianii Giddens.

Giddens called paramedics to his home, in the first block of Sesame Court, about 1 p.m. Oct. 3, 1999, to treat Sianii, who had bruises on her face and abdomen and a severed spinal column. She was pronounced dead at Carroll County General Hospital.

Stefanii Giddens, the victim's mother, said that on the day of her death, Sianii was crying when she left her with her husband about 9:30 a.m. to work at a pizza shop.

Giddens told investigators that the baby fell off a couch, police said. He later said she was injured while they were "roughhousing," police said. But a medical examiner testified that Sianii suffered "both old and new injuries" including broken ribs suffered days or weeks before her death.

"What went on with this baby is incomprehensible," Byrnes said in sentencing Giddens.

Giddens also was indicted on child abuse charges for the earlier injuries, but prosecutors dropped those charges after he was convicted of the killing.

Stefanii Giddens said she hadn't known about the earlier abuse until she took her daughter to a doctor shortly before her death.

"We didn't know, and by the time we did know, it was too late," she said.

The couple were married in 1997 and have a 2-year-old son, Orlandus Jr., she said.

She said she was offended that Giddens' mother and aunt blame her for the death.

"It's very offensive, but we've had a poor relationship with them all along," she said.

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