Stepfather denies murder; Mother screams, charges defense table
By Brent Curtis
A Poultney man charged with the murder of his 2-year-old stepdaughter denied the offense and was ordered jailed on $250,000 bail Monday.
Dennis Duby, 31, faces 20 years to life behind bars for the killing of Dezirae Sheldon who Vermont State Police investigators say died from skull fractures inflicted by blunt force trauma.
Duby told investigators that he believed the child had fallen off a table and said he'd seen her fall from a toilet and a sink on the afternoon of Feb. 19. But an autopsy of the little girl showed that she had fractures to either side of her head.
"It appeared that someone held her head so tight her skull cracked," a doctor who treated Dezirae at Rutland Regional Medical Center told investigators.
Chaos erupted at the end of Duby's arraignment as his wife - the girl's biological mother, Sandra Eastman - charged the defense table screaming "What did you do to my (expletive) baby."
She was intercepted before she reached Duby by Rutland County Sheriff's Deputies who were at the hearing in strength due to the large number of angry family members and supporters who filled the Rutland criminal courtroom to capacity.
An hour before the arraignment, protesters gathered outside the state Department for Children and Families office in Rutland's Asa Bloomer Building, where they railed against that agency's decision to return Dezirae to her mother after Eastman was convicted in July of abusing her daughter.
DCF Commissioner Dave Yacovone, who came to Rutland on Monday and spoke with the family of her biological father, said his agency would perform both an internal and external investigation into the circumstances of the toddler's case.