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Week in Review : MAJOR EVENTS, IMAGES AND PEOPLE IN ORANGE COUNTY NEWS : COURTS : Acquittals Close Book on Baby’s 1979 Death

<i> Times staff writer</i> s<i> Gary Jarlson and Barry S. Surman compiled the Week in Review stories. </i>

It was in 1979, while Michael and Linda Garritson were baby-sitting Scotty Cleveland at their Anaheim Hills home, that the 13-month-old boy suffered a fatal head injury.

But it wasn’t until two years later that Michael Garritson was arrested and charged with murder after his wife had told police he had killed the child while she was in another room, a charge her husband’s attorneys claimed was motivated by her anger at him for having an affair.

It all came to an end last week when Superior Judge Robert R. Fitzgerald acquitted Michael Garritson of second-degree murder and Linda of an accessory-to-murder charge. They were both found not guilty of conspiracy to obstruct justice and cover up a murder.

“I know if it were my child I would want to kill whoever caused my baby’s death,” Fitzgerald said in consoling Rich and Leslie Cleveland, the infant’s parents. But he added that he was convinced it was Linda Garritson--not her husband--who had killed the child.

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It was Garritson’s third trial for the Cleveland death, the first ending in a mistrial and the second in a hung jury.


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