Father gets 5 to 10 years in assault of infant son

February 12, 2004|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A former corrections officer convicted of assaulting his infant son was sentenced Wednesday by Franklin County Judge Richard J. Walsh to five to 10 years in state prison, but will remain out on bond pending the outcome of an appeal by a noted Pennsylvania attorney.

William Costopoulos of Lemoyne, Pa., will handle the appeal of Peter B. Stotelmyer, said Chris Sheffield, who represented Stotelmyer in his December jury trial. He was convicted of aggravated assault, which carries a mandatory minimum of five years in prison if the victim is under the age of 13.

Costopoulos was the attorney for Charlie Robertson, the former mayor of York, Pa., who was acquitted in 2002 of criminal conspiracy in the death of a black woman killed during a 1969 race riot in York. Robertson, who was a police officer at the time of the killing, was accused of handing out ammunition to white rioters and encouraging them to shoot blacks.


Costopoulos also successfully represented Jay Smith, one of the defendants in the so-called "Main Line Murders," a 1979 case in which a woman was killed and her two children were never seen again.

"He will be appealing the judge's ruling on evidentiary issues" from the trial, Sheffield said. That could include Walsh's decision not to allow testimony by a defense expert witness, Sheffield said.

Stotelmyer, 32, formerly of 280 Mount Union Road, Fayetteville, Pa., was charged with aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child in the Nov. 12, 2002, assault on his son, Calvin, then 5 months old. A former corrections officer at the Maryland Correctional Training Center in Hagerstown, Stotelmyer was acquitted on the endangering charge.

According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by Pennsylvania State Police, the child was crying and refusing to eat and Stotelmyer "began to shake Calvin violently up and down off his knee." Stotelmyer told police the child went limp and he performed CPR to revive him, the affidavit stated.

The child was taken to Chambersburg Hospital and then Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center, but was released within a few days, according to trial testimony.

Prosecution witness Dr. Mark Dias testified at the trial that the child showed evidence of shaken baby syndrome, including bleeding on his brain and retinal hemorrhages.

"My husband and the father of my son violently shook my son and could have killed him and I can't forgive him for that," Anni Stotelmyer said at the sentencing, according to a court transcript.

"I ... don't know what it feels like to look into the eyes of my angered father as he shakes me until I can't breathe any more," she told Walsh.

"I won't rest. I won't stop until there's justice for Calvin because that's who this is about," she said.

Sheffield said the county's probation department recommended a five- to 20-year sentence for his client. Sheffield, who said Peter Stotelmyer has no previous criminal record, argued for a shorter maximum end on the sentence.

Sheffield said Costopoulos could appeal the case in county court or go directly to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. The appeals process could take several months, he said.

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