- Associated Press - Friday, June 27, 2014

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) - A southwest Florida woman has been convicted of killing her autistic stepdaughter.

A Sarasota County jury found 37-year-old Misty Stoddard guilty Friday of first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse. Prosecutors didn’t seek the death penalty, which means Stoddard faces a mandatory life sentence.

Authorities say 11-year-old Melissa Stoddard died of a lack of oxygen to the brain in December 2012. The girl had been tied and forced to sleep on a plywood board with her mouth duct-taped shut.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune (http://goo.gl/zXilMt ) reports that Melissa’s biological father, Kenneth Stoddard, is scheduled to go on trial in August. He’s charged with manslaughter, aggravated battery and tampering with evidence.

An expert testified that DNA from Melissa, Kenneth and Misty Stoddard was found on the board.

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Information from: Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune, http://www.heraldtribune.com

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