One man charged, second sought in former Pawsox player death

Friday, November 7th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PHOENIX (AP) _ A man has been charged in the death of Cincinnati Reds rookie outfielder Dernell Stenson, and police said they were seeking a second suspect.

Reginald Riddle, 19, also was charged Thursday with armed robbery and kidnapping, police said.

Early Wednesday, Stenson's body was found in a street in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler. He had been shot, then run over and apparently dragged some distance by his own SUV.

Riddle, from Harvey, Ill., is the half brother of Kevin Riddle, 43, who was found driving Stenson's SUV about two hours after the body was found.

Kevin Riddle was charged earlier with possession of stolen property, police said.

Authorities are seeking a third man, David Griffith, 20, who police said should be considered armed and dangerous.

Stenson, 25, made his major league debut with the Reds this year, batting .247 with three home runs and 13 RBIs in 37 games. His last home run accounted for Cincinnati's final run of the season.

Stenson was a third-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in 1996, and was in the team's minor league system for seven years before he was claimed off waivers by Cincinnati on March 1. He hit .250 for the Pawtucket Red Sox last season with nine home runs and 36 RBI _ while striking out 97 times.

Stenson had been playing in the Arizona Fall League, where up-and-coming players are sent to hone their skills.

``People are stunned,'' said Donnie Branch, Stenson's high school coach in LaGrange, Ga. ``In baseball, we've never had a better player. People in the country hadn't seen that yet and he was fixing to prove what he really could do.''

Mike Gallo, a Houston Astros pitcher and Stenson's teammate on the Arizona league's Scottsdale Scorpions, said Stenson had a 14-month-old child.

``He's just one of the most soft-spoken, athletic guys,'' Gallo said. ``You just wouldn't imagine it could happen to someone like that.''

Gallo said that after a day game on Tuesday, Stenson had gone out with some teammates ``for a few drinks, to relax and just hang out.'' Gallo said it was a mystery how Stenson wound up in Chandler, which is several miles from the Scottsdale clubs the players frequent.

``There's nothing out there,'' Gallo said. ``He had to be forced into doing it.''