Mother who killed young son is given top 30-year term

May 02, 1991|By Sheridan Lyons

Expert testimony that a mother who murdered her 2 1/2 -year-old son was herself abused as a child failed yesterday to move a Baltimore Circuit Court judge, who handed Idamae Winterstein the maximum 30-year prison sentence.

Winterstein, 30, pleaded guilty March 20 to second-degree murder in the death of David Michael Winterstein at their home in the 200 block of South Conkling Street last May 31.

At the time of the plea, Judge Elsbeth L. Bothe rejected Winterstein's tearful claim that she hadn't done anything to David, even though she was pleading guilty. The judge listened to a taped confession and said the prosecution's account of neglect, cigarette burns and beatings was "one of the most horrible cases I've ever heard about."

The expert said yesterday that Winterstein had been sexually abused as a child and a teen-ager, had a low IQ and a passive personality that led to her being abused by her husband and by her boyfriend, Franklin Carl Redden, 40, who moved in after the death of her husband -- a month before David died.

At his guilty plea, Redden admitted hitting the boy but attempted to blame the death on Winterstein. Redden is awaiting sentencing on his plea to second-degree murder, which he is trying to withdraw.

In outlining the state's case to support the guilty pleas, prosecutor Laura F. Mullally said both Winterstein and Redden had been punishing the boy with increasing harshness and withholding food and water.

One of two older siblings, both now in foster care, saw Redden beating David as the boy hung by a belt under his arms from the rail of an upper bunk bed on the day he died, Ms. Mullally said. The autopsy listed child abuse as the cause of death, because none of the injuries noted -- burns, bruises, belt marks or a punch in the mouth -- would have killed him if he hadn't been dehydrated and weakened by untreated pneumonia, she said.

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