A 21-year-old man was convicted of murder yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court for beating to death his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter as he tried to potty train her over a span of several months.
"This was a lot more horrendous than a typical beating case," said prosecutor Julie Drake, chief of the Felony Family Violence Division in the state's attorney's office. "I found this case really shocking and upsetting."
The jury heard four days of testimony and deliberated for less than one hour before convicting Erik Stoddard of second-degree murder and child abuse in the death of Calen Faith Dirubbo.
On June 15 of last year, Calen was found dead in her house in the 2500 block of Moore Ave., which she shared with Stoddard and her mother, Cheryl Dieter-Dirubbo.
Stoddard would wake up Calen in the middle of the night to check whether she had wet her pants, Drake said. If she had, he would beat her.
Police initially arrested Calen's stepfather, Nicholas Dieter, in connection with her death, but prosecutors later dropped charges after evidence surfaced implicating Stoddard.
The night of Calen's death, Calen's mother and Stoddard had gone out for the night, according to Drake.
Dieter had agreed to baby-sit his stepdaughter, but when he arrived at her home, he found her unresponsive. She had been beaten and was dead or dying, prosecutors said.
Dieter called 911, and Calen was pronounced dead at the scene soon after.
Stoddard faces up to 60 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled May 15 before Circuit Judge Roger Brown.
Since the child's death, Stoddard has been convicted of assaulting two women in a house in the 6900 block of Harford Road in November 2001 and is serving a prison sentence.