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Trial begins for man accused in infant's death

State to seek life without parole for Floyd Edward Bingaman III

State to seek life without parole for Floyd Edward Bingaman III

November 21, 2007|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN ? The jury trial of a Hagerstown man charged with first-degree murder among other crimes in the January death of his former girlfriend's infant son begins Monday morning.

The state will seek life in prison without the possibility of parole if Floyd Edward Bingaman III, 21, is convicted, according to paperwork filed in June in Washington County Circuit Court.

Justice Calvin Stotler, whose name later was changed to Justice Christopher Calvin Myers-Cannon, was pronounced dead at John Hopkins University Hospital the afternoon of Jan. 6, court records show.

A John Hopkins doctor who specializes in infant head trauma, specifically "shaken baby syndrome," told investigators that the baby's injuries were the worst he had seen in 30 years. The injuries were consistent with the head being repeatedly struck against a hard object or being struck with a blunt object, according to charging documents.

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Bingaman, who had been dating Justice's mother, Ashley Nicole Stotler, for about two months before the incident, was charged after a two-hour interview with Washington County Sheriff's Department investigators on Jan. 7.

Bingaman was alone with the 4-month-old baby while Stotler was taking a shower the evening of Jan. 4. 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 show.

A Washington County Circuit judge in July suppressed a piece of evidence related to Bingaman's interaction with investigators.

The evidence involved a comment by Bingaman, made after an investigator used abrasive language to elicit an incriminating response, Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley said at the time.

Robert Veil, an assistant state's attorney, said after the hearing that the judge's decision was related to the fact that the investigator drew the response from Bingaman after he asked to see an attorney.

During the same hearing, Beachley ruled that a similar comment Bingaman made earlier during a taped interrogation could be used in court.

Bingaman's trial was set for July but was postponed following a joint motion for continuance filed by prosecutors and defense attorney Scott L. Rolle.

On Nov. 6, Rolle filed a motion to move the trial to another county, citing pretrial prejudicial publicity. At issue in the motion was coverage of "every facet of the case" by The Herald-Mail, widely publicized events to raise money for medical expenses related to Justice's care and several pages dedicated to Justice on the social-networking Web site MySpace.com.

Rolle's motion was denied Nov. 9 by Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright III.

Bingaman also faces charges of second-degree murder, child abuse resulting in death, first-degree assault and other crimes.

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