ANNAPOLIS – Edward C. Stouffer, who was convicted in November 1996 of the kidnapping and felony murder of Jeffrey Fiddler, may have to be retried following the Wednesday reversal of the murder conviction.
“Because we hold the evidence indicates the homicide was not convicted in the perpetration of the underlying felony, we shall reverse the judgment of conviction for felony murder,” wrote Judge Arrie W. Davis of the Court of Special Appeals.
The court upheld the kidnapping conviction and sent the case back, saying that Stouffer, 29, “could be tried on retrial for murder in the second degree.”
Gary Bair, chief of the Criminal Appeals Division, said that attorney general’s staff will meet to decide on whether to appeal the decision to the Court of Appeals. If no further appeal is made, Stouffer’s case would be sent back to Washington County, where the prosecutor would seek a retrial.
Fiddler’s body was found near the Pennsylvania border on February 27, 1989. Medical examiners concluded that it had been taken there after death, and that Fiddler had bled to death after being beaten and stabbed.
Stouffer was indicted in October of 1995.
At the trial, a number of witnesses testified to having heard Stouffer brag about the killing, and to seeing him and several friends quarreling with Fiddler in the weeks previous to the murder.
Police found samples of hair identical to Fiddler’s in a car that Stouffer had owned. A forensic chemist found traces of a blood stain in the car, but was unable to subject it to a DNA test.
The defense pointed to the lack of physical evidence tying Stouffer to the crime and to inconsistencies in the testimony of several witnesses.
Davis called it “a facile decision” that the evidence demonstrated Stouffer’s guilt, but said it did not demonstrate that Fiddler’s death was the “result or outcome” of his abduction. Stouffer, sentenced to life in prison for the felony murder and a concurrent 30 year term for the kidnapping, is being held at the House of Corrections annex in Jessup. -30-