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Doctor says baby died after shaken

January 09, 2007|by PEPPER BALLARD

Editor's note: It is the policy of The Herald-Mail to publish names in stories as they appear in charging documents that are drafted by police. Some of the names in this story are different than in the obituary because the family provided that information to the funeral home.




HAGERSTOWN - A 4-month-old boy who died Saturday at a Baltimore hospital allegedly was shaken to death by his mother's boyfriend while she took a shower Thursday night, charging documents state.

Floyd Edward Bingaman III, 20, of 17309 Amber Drive in Hagerstown, is charged with first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death, among other charges, in the death Saturday of Justice Calvin Stotler.

Bingaman was ordered to remain held without bond Monday at the Washington County Detention Center by Washington County District Judge Ralph H. France II.

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Bingaman, who appeared in court Monday via closed circuit television from the jail, did not speak at the request of his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Loren Villa.

A preliminary hearing on the charges was set for Feb. 1.

Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Robert Veil told France that Bingaman received probation before judgment on a second-degree assault charge last year, but that judgment was stricken after Bingaman failed to complete anger management classes ordered as a condition of the probation.

Veil said Bingaman was employed as a butcher at Martin's Food Market on Dual Highway. Bingaman is a Williamsport High School graduate, Villa said.

Washington County Sheriff's Department Lt. Mark Knight said doctors with the Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner were performing an autopsy Monday to determine Justice's exact cause of death.

According to charging documents filed Sunday by the Sheriff's Department, Dr. Alan Walker, a certified specialist in "shaken baby syndrome" at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, called Justice's injuries "the worst he has seen in his 30 years."

Justice was shaken so severely that "the retina to one of his eyes actually detached," charging documents state. The injuries, considered "devastating," were "not consistent with any type of accidental incident," Walker told deputies, according to charging documents.

According to charging documents, Bingaman was watching Justice while the boy's mother, Ashley Stotler, 20, took a shower at her 13502 Spriggs Road home near Maugansville.

Bingaman dated Stotler for about two months, charging documents state. He was not the baby's father, Knight said.

Bingaman told Stotler that Justice had gotten "fussy" and vomited while she was in the shower, so he began "walking and 'bouncing' the baby in an attempt to get him to stop crying," charging documents state.

Stotler checked on Justice, who was lying in his crib, two times before 11 p.m. Both times, Justice "jerked" when Stotler touched his back, charging documents state.

When Stotler checked on the boy at about 11 p.m., she noticed "Justice's pant leg was pulled up and when she went to pull it down, she noticed it was very cold," charging documents state. Stotler also "felt a large knot on the back of his head," ran upstairs to get her mother and called 911, according to charging documents.

Justice was taken by ambulance to Washington County Hospital with significant head injuries, police said. The hospital notified police of possible child abuse at 2 a.m. Friday, and the boy was flown to The John Hopkins Hospital, where doctors confirmed that he had been abused, police said.

Justice was pronounced dead Saturday at 1:20 p.m., documents state.

Bingaman was arrested Sunday night after police interviewed him at the Sheriff's Department, Knight said.

According to charging documents, Bingaman told investigators the baby's death "wasn't intentional."

Investigators interviewed the baby's other caretakers, charging documents state.

Justice "was alert and oriented" and "smiled" when Stotler picked him up from his grandmother's house in Hagerstown at 9 p.m. Thursday, charging documents state.

Walker told deputies that Justice's injuries were inflicted after he was picked up from his grandmother's house, charging documents state.

"The baby would not have been smiling, laughing or responsive in any way after these injuries were sustained," the doctor told deputies, documents state.

Paul Spickler, owner of the Spriggs Road home and boyfriend of Dee Myers, Stotler's mother, said Justice's biological father is a Hagerstown native who lives in Texas. He came back to the area upon hearing of the baby's death, Spickler said.

Spickler, 41, who considers Stotler his daughter, said Justice "was the happiest kid you'd ever want to see. He would always coo. He would always smile."

He said Justice was Stotler's "No. 1 priority." Spickler said Stotler would rush Justice to the doctor for even the most minor ailment.

Stotler, a hairstylist in Hagerstown, was not ready to make any statements about her son's death Monday, Spickler said.

He said the family is "devastated." Spickler, Myers, Stotler and Spickler's mother live together at the home on Spriggs Road.

"The ambulance couldn't get here fast enough," Spickler said.

"She had no idea what happened, but I know she didn't think (Bingaman) had anything to do with it," he said.

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