Wednesday, August 9, 2000
Burn Expert Faces Second Perjury Charge;
Officials Say Witness
by Josh White
The executive director of the National Burn Victim Foundation,
charged with lying about his qualifications during a
child abuse case in Prince William County last year, was
Monday on another charge of perjury in the same case.
Prosecutors brought the additional charge of perjury against
S. Stocco, 32, of West Orange, N.J., directly to a grand jury
Stocco also faces one charge of obtaining money by false
for billing the defense team in the child abuse case for his
Stocco was to have testified in the February 1999 murder trial
Jennifer Talley, who was later convicted of felony homicide and
child abuse for her role in the death of 2-year-old Sade Naomi
Talley is serving a nine-year prison sentence.
Sade was plunged into a bathtub filled with scalding water by
boyfriend, Billy Leon Smalls. Police and prosecutors said the
was held in the water as punishment for wetting herself. Sade,
did not receive medical attention, died a few days later. Smalls
convicted of second-degree murder and is serving 30 years.
Prosecutors said Stocco was prepared to testify that Sade's
could have been accidental and that the pattern of burns could
suggested that the child turned the hot water on by herself as
sat in the tub. Other medical experts testified to the contrary.
William authorities have alleged that Stocco, who has
across the country as a "burn expert" in dozens of trials,
his credentials to be certified as a paid expert witness in
Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert (D) said prosecutors have
that Stocco has given conflicting testimony about his
background in various states and lied during a court
in Talley's case, at which he testified that he doesn't have a
Stocco did not testify in Talley's trial because a Prince
judge barred him from taking the stand after prosecutors
him about his background.
Ebert said yesterday that the additional charge of perjury
directly to statements Stocco made in Prince William and
prosecutors to cover a wider range of his statements to a
The main fear prosecutors have is that Stocco, whose co-workers
said has testified in many trials, might have had an effect on
cases that have yielded convictions and acquittals at least
based on his testimony.
"It's really an affront to the whole system, and the system
heavily on experts," Ebert said. "If experts are going to
themselves, it could potentially cause a lot of injustice. We
more out of experts than we do out of someone who is just a
witness, and we should be able to rely on what they say."
Stocco has been with the Basking Ridge, N.J.-based National
Victim Foundation for about six years. He began as a forensic
investigator and took over as executive director of the nonprofit
The group's executive board has said publicly that Stocco
of his duties on all occasions consistent with the high
of truthfulness, competence and professional integrity upon
he and the [foundation] stakes its good name and reputation."
Ebert said Stocco appeared in court yesterday to face the
His trial is scheduled for Nov. 14.
Also on Monday, a 55-year-old caregiver was indicted on charges
murder, felony homicide and adult abuse and neglect that resulted
the death of an elderly Manassas woman in April.
Sarah Lucille Holland, of Douglas Street in Manassas, is
in the death of Christine V. Payne, 82. According to police,
was acting as caregiver for Payne in Holland's Manassas home
abused her over time, ultimately leading to her death.
Payne was admitted to the emergency room at Prince William
on April 28. She was unconscious and suffering from several
and scratches to the head, chest and stomach. Prosecutors said
the injuries might indicate a pattern of abuse and that the abuse
to a fatal injury to her head and neck.
According to Manassas police, Holland told investigators that
injuries happened as Holland was helping Payne out of the bathtub
into bed. Holland called rescue officials to the scene when Payne
In a search warrant affidavit filed in Prince William County
Court, Manassas police say that Payne had "bruises and
over her entire body" and that "some of these bruises
to have occurred recently, while other bruises appeared
Holland did not appear in court yesterday, and a warrant was
for her arrest.