When Franklin Carl Redden moved into Idamae Winterstein's home, her three children hailed him as their "new daddy," the man who would take them to Disney World.
Thirty days after Redden's arrival, Winterstein's two surviving children knew him as the man who helped kill their baby brother.
Yesterday, Redden was sentenced in Baltimore Circuit Court to 30 years in prison for the second-degree murder of 2-year-old David Winterstein, whose bruised and beaten body was found a year ago today. In handing down the sentence, Judge John Carroll Byrnes dismissed all calls for leniency or compassion toward Redden.
"This type of case causes all of us to pause and consider human nature because there are some things we don't believe people can do because they are human. There's something deep in their souls that says: 'I can't do this,' " Judge Byrnes said before addressing Redden. "But you have crossed that line. There is nothing within you that says: 'I can't do this.' "
Redden, 41, and Winterstein, who is serving a 30-year sentence for her role in the murder, both punished young David violently because he was slow in toilet-training. They burned him with cigarettes and beat him as he hung suspended by his arms from a bunk bed. Winterstein even used her son's head as if it were a mop on the floor.
"The idea of leniency in this case is an utter joke," said Laura Mullally, who prosecuted the pair.
But Lawrence Rosenberg, who defended Redden at yesterday's hearing, asked Judge Byrnes to sentence his client not out of passion or a need to exact revenge for a "horrible crime." Mr. Rosenberg asked that Judge Byrnes be fair. He said that even though Redden pleaded guilty, his client claimed only to have hit the child with a belt.
"We'd love for him to say: 'I did it. It was a horrible thing, and I'm sick about it,' " said Mr. Rosenberg. "Everyone [in his family] believes that he did not do the horrible, terrible things that were done to this young man."
A year ago today, when police arrived at Winterstein's home in the 200 block of South Conkling Street and found young David, malnourished, dehydrated and unconscious, Redden was there, calm, smiling, saying: "It's not my kid," according to police reports. Yesterday, Redden said he was sorry about what had happened, but he did not elaborate. Under the terms of his plea, Redden only acknowledged that the state had the evidence to convict him. He never admitted his guilt.
Ms. Mullally said there was a reason why Redden never owned up to what he had done.
"Who is going to admit that he tortured and burned and beat this child?" she asked. "He can't admit that to his family. He can't admit that to his fellow inmates in the DOC [the Division of Correction system] because they would make him pay for it."
The surviving children, now 9 and 11, are living with Winterstein's sister and undergoing counseling. The sister, who asked that her name not be used for fear the children would be identified, said she was glad the children did not have to testify.
"It's good that it happened this way for them, but it's not fair considering the baby's death," she said, adding that Redden and Winterstein "didn't get what they deserved for the baby's death. Both of them should have gotten life."