Daily News staff
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
A judge has ruled that a Lee County man charged with first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated child abuse in the death of his 11-month-old daughter is competent to stand trial.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against 33-year-old Justin Grodin.
Gretchen Grodin’s body was was discovered in a shallow grave on May 2, 2000, by a man clearing brush behind her grandparents' south Fort Myers condominium.
According to autopsy reports, Gretchen suffered from beatings, a fractured arm and repeated child abuse before her death.
Mary Grodin, the child's mother, has said Gretchen was force-fed vomit, soiled baby wipes were stuffed in her mouth and Justin Grodin tied Gretchen's hands with her birth measuring tape so she wouldn't fight him while feeding her.
The Grodins fled the state after Gretchen’s death, but they were arrested and extradited back to Florida in 2003.
Justin Grodin’s competency was called into question after he mumbled, loudly sang portions of songs, interrupted Judge Lynn Gerald, Assistant State Attorney Anthony Kunasek, his defense attorneys and jail staff during hearings.
© 2007 Naples Daily News and NDN Productions. Published in Naples, Florida, USA by the E.W. Scripps Co.