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Faulty Science?

June 22, 2009 09:28:56 am
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06.17.09audrey1Mistaken diagnoses of Shaken Baby Syndrome may have sent thousands of innocent people to prison, according to a new study

Read the research here

Exclusive to The Crime Report

In October, 1995, when police charged Audrey Edmunds, a Waunakee, Wis. day care provider, with the murder of a seven-month-old girl who had been left in her care, prosecutors said she had shaken the baby to death.

A medical expert testified at trial that the child had suffered critical injuries that were the hallmarks of Shaken Baby Syndrome. A jury convicted Edmunds and she was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

At the time the case was unremarkable—one of thousands of successful prosecutions during the past 30 years of parents and other care-givers who have been found guilty of charges ranging from manslaughter to murder, based on findings of what is known as the triad—retinal hemorrhage, bleeding in the brain and brain swelling. Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is one of the few instances in the criminal justice system where the diagnosis is the basis for prosecution.

Last year, however, in a remarkable turnaround, one of the physicians that testified against Edmunds told a judge that he was no longer confident that the injuries were inflicted by Edmunds and that they could have occurred many hours before the baby was dropped off.

Edmunds was granted a new trial by a judge who ruled that the testimony “shows that there has been a shift in mainstream medical opinion.” In effect, the scientific foundation of the syndrome had been undermined to the extent that a new jury would probably have a reasonable doubt about Edmunds’ guilt.

The case was dropped and Edmunds was freed.

That was good news for Edmunds—whose freedom is the result of work done by the Wisconsin Innocence Project—but what about the thousands of others convicted during the past two decades as a result of the same medical testimony that put Edmunds behind bars?

A soon-to-be-published analysis of shaken baby cases and recent developments in the medical community by University of Maine School of Law professor Deborah Tuerkheimer presents persuasive evidence and raises troubling questions about whether many of these convictions were of innocent people who were found guilty on the basis of faulty science. The analysis is scheduled to be published in September by Washington University Law Review.

Tuerkheimer, who is joining the DePaul University College of Law faculty on July 1, points to new research in the United States and abroad showing that a variety of circumstances, including something as seemingly innocuous as falls from a short height, can cause fatal head injuries that appear very similar to injuries routinely diagnosed as SBS.

If research shows that the physical conditions that once automatically resulted in a prosecution could actually have been the result of an accident, the implications are enormous.

“Given the scientific developments…we may surmise that a sizeable portion of the universe of defendants convicted of  SBS-based crimes is, in all likelihood, factually innocent,” Tuerkheimer writes, adding that a far greater number of defendants among the group were likely convicted on legally insufficient evidence.

“While we cannot know how many convictions are ‘unsafe’ without systematic case review, a comparison of the problematic category of SBS convictions to DNA and other mass exonerations to date reveals that this injustice is commensurate with any yet seen in the criminal justice arena,” Tuerkheimer writes.

Keith Findley, a clinical professor of law and co-director of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, who headed Audrey Edmunds legal team, said, “The system is sending people to prison based on findings of beyond a reasonable doubt when in many of the cases the only evidence is medical evidence on which many medical experts…have a substantial doubt.”

 He added, “This is not about being opposed to child abuse prosecutions. No critic of SBS theory wants anyone to get away with child abuse, but when the diagnosis becomes the entire basis for the prosecution, that’s problematic.”

In a 1974 medical journal article, American pediatric radiologist John Caffey described what would become SBS, saying, "Our evidence, both direct and circumstantial, indicates that manual whiplash shaking of infants is a common primary type of trauma in the so-called battered infant syndrome." The first appeal of an SBS-related criminal conviction was reported in 1984, according to Tuerkheimer's research.

During the next five years, there were less than two reported appellate decisions per year. While counting reported appellate decisions is a decided undercount since the majority of convictions do not result in such rulings, Tuerkheimer notes that beginning in 1990, the number of appeals grew rapidly. There were 74 published appellate decisions from 1990 to 1994; 160 from 1995 to 1999; and 315 from 2000 to 2004. And the upward trend is continuing: the first half of the current five year period—from 2005 to June 20, 2008 shows 259 opinions. Approximately 1,500 babies are diagnosed with SBS each year, but no information is collected to analyze how many of these cases result in criminal prosecutions, and of those how many prosecutions are based solely on the SBS triad.

Questions about the SBS diagnosis have emerged over the past two decades, but the critical debunking of the theory began in earnest following the 1997 prosecution of Louise Woodward, a 19-year-old British au pair. Woodward was charged with the murder of eight-month-old Matthew Eappen while he was in her care in his home in Newton, Mass. Dubbed the "Nanny Trial," the case was the subject of intense media scrutiny in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

The prosecution presented testimony that the boy's injuries were the result of violent shaking and his head hitting a hard surface. Defense experts testified the boy's injuries could have occurred days earlier. Woodward was convicted of second degree murder, but the judge later reduced the charge to involuntary manslaughter, noting the possibility of another cause for the SBS symptoms.

Wisconsin law student Molly Gena, who was part of the Edmunds defense team, wrote an article for the Wisconsin Law Review in 2007, noting that “there is no consensus among medical professionals as to whether the symptoms that have traditionally been attributed to SBS are necessarily indicative of intentional shaking.”

Earlier this year, for example, two British pathologists, in a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Developmental Pathologyfound that SBS symptoms can be found in babies before they are taken home from the hospital for the very first time. The Daily Telegraph  in London quoted the pathologists as reporting that the symptoms can occur without violent shaking.

Dr. Irene Scheimberg told the newspaper, “When there is no evidence of physical abuse, apart from the hemorrhaging, we may be sending to jail parents who lost their children through no fault of their own.”

Closer to home, Dr. Bruce Gross, a Fellow of the American College of Forensic Examiners, writing earlier this year in The Forensic Examiner, noted that studies have called into question the SBS triad as the result of only violent shaking. “The prevailing notion is that the injuries ‘characteristic’ of SBS are equivalent to those seen in a 35 mph automobile accident in which the infant victim was unrestrained, or a fall from a two –story building. Yet, research (including biomechanical analysis) has shown that, although fortunately not the norm, infants and toddlers can and do die from falls as short as 1-4 feet.”

Gross added, “In brief, biomechanical research suggests that basing the diagnosis of SBS only on the presence of the triad of symptoms lacks scientific certainty.”

Tuerkheimer writes that despite the potential for a large number of wrongful convictions, the United States criminal justice system “has yet to respond to new scientific realities.” Investigations of past SBS-based prosecutions have been undertaken in both the United Kingdom and Canada. “When viewed in global perspective, our continued adherence to a prosecution template that rests on discredited science is particularly jarring,” Tuerkheimer writes.

Findley, of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, said that in the wake of the Edmunds case, he has been inundated by requests from scores of defense attorneys for information about the case. “I am hearing anecdotally that defense lawyers are getting acquittals or cases are being dropped once they bring in evidence calling SBS into question,” he said.

Indeed, earlier this year, a jury in Iroquois County, Illinois, acquitted day care operator Connie Rieken of first degree murder in the 2005 death of a six-month-old boy who had been left in her care.

Defense attorneys Kenneth Leshen and Scott Sliwinski presented testimony from experts that suggested the baby’s injuries could have been the result of being dropped by his father days earlier.

One of the prosecution’s chief witnesses, Dr. Jill Glick, of the University of Chicago, testified that the baby was the victim of violent shaking, basing her diagnosis on the classic SBS triad of symptoms.

However, Rieken denied shaking the baby and there was no testimony from anyone that she had abused the baby in any way, according to Sliwinski.

The jury acquitted Rieken after about three hours of deliberation.

In her article, Tuerkheimer calls for a comprehensive inquiry, perhaps by the National Academy of Sciences, which recently issued a broad criticism of forensic science in the courts.

“SBS from inception to current iteration is fully embedded in the domain of the law,” Tuerkheimer writes. “This reality creates a special kind of urgency: around the country, murder convictions are resulting weekly from evidence that is a source of significant scientific controversy…To date our system has failed.”

Maurice Possley is a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and author who left the Chicago Tribune in 2008. He was a visiting lecturer at the University of Michigan Law School in 2009 and in the fall will begin work at the Northern California Innocence Project at Santa Clara University School of Law.


Contact Professor Tuerkheimer

Read the research 

Find and talk to experts 

Read related articles on shaken baby syndrome

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Posted by Kelly
Monday, December 20, 2010 12:52

Hello, I am currently going through a trial of my own for being accused of harming a child that was in my care. The child was @ the time 7 1/2 months old. He was on him tummy, while I was feeding another child in my care. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the child extend his arms as if to start to crawl and then dropped his head down on tile flooring in my home. I immediately stopped what I was doing to comfort the child. I phoned the mother of the child right after this happened to inform her, told her if she wanted to come over to see for herself he was okay, please do…the mother worked 60 seconds from my home….she never came. 1/2 hour later my husband home and another client came to pick her granddaughter up, both saw the child sitting in the highchair eating, with a tiny red mark on his right forehead. The child usually napped in the afternoon from 2pm to 4pm, because his mother would pick him up @ 5pm. So, I laid him down around 3:45 that day. I then received a frantic call from the mother @ 420pm telling me to have him ready in his car seat she had an appointment she couldn’t be late for. She picked him up and had to ask me were he had bumped his head. I pointed it out to her. She said well, I guess I will have to get used to him bumping his head. And took off in a rage. The mother and father of this child have domestic violence issues. The father is a convicted felon for abuse. She also had an order of protection out on the father 2 weeks prior to bringing her child to my home. When she picked the child up, she is claiming that her child had bruising on his face and scratches. She proceeded to leave my home and take him to the father’s house. She didn’t arrive to her home were she lived with her parents until 45 minutes later. They all live with in a 5 minute radius. During testimony in July the Father said he never saw any of the bruising or cuts on his childs face like the mother is claiming. Earlier in the day the mother informed me that she and the father were fighting. I believe that the mother did something to her child after leaving the father’s house and arriving @ her home. The expert testimony said that my story of what happened does not mesh with what the mother informed her that the child looked fine when being dropped off @ my home. and the medical findings. That’s all fine and dandy, but the mother has had mental issues while being pregnant along with having them after he was born. Also a very violent temper with the father. The State has rested their witnesses and my attonery motioned for dismissal to the Judge and the Judge denied the motion for dismissal. So that means now that I have to move forward with my defense. I have hired an expert, Dr. John Plunkett, so I’m praying that with his testimony and mine that this case will be found NOT GUILTY. I did not abuse this precious child nor would I ever abuse a child. My son is 6 years old and thinks his mommy is the BEST. Please if anyone has any suggestions regarding my case, please feel free to contact me. Otherwise PLEASE pray for me and my family to get through this.

Posted by Debra Mahler
Wednesday, December 08, 2010 07:46

MY SON was convicted of SBS in 1995 by a Marine Jury. My Grandson, Kade, had DiGeorge’s Anomaly which includes “the triad”. He also had pylorus, a hole in his heart, an infection in his heart, was severely jaundiced, born from a mother who had the measles at the time of birth, was stuck in the birth canal for nearly 20 minutes, among other things. Byron is STILL IN PRISON. He was sentenced to life in Leavenworth and is now in Safford FCI in Arizona. I am flat broke because of this case. I need to contact the Innocence Project. They need to help Byron. Can someone help me? I’m so tired. Thank you, Debi Mahler debidoeshair@yahoo.com 831 801-8225 THANK YOU.

Posted by Michigan Woman Cleared in Shaken Baby Case « Medical Misdiagnosis Research
Tuesday, October 19, 2010 04:22

[…] Convictions based on shaken baby syndrome have come under fire in recent years as scientific studies have cast doubt on forensic methods used in the investigations. Read more. […]

Posted by Barry & Trina
Sunday, July 18, 2010 08:59

You’re absolutely right. We went through this same situation with a pediatrician that works for CARES NW at Legacy Emanuel in Portland OR. She continued to testify on the stand she didn’t know what happened, but was sure based on the medical findings this was abusive head trauma. Doesn’t make sense…

Posted by Barry & Trina Vargo
Sunday, July 18, 2010 08:42

We’ve been accused of SBS and although there weren’t criminal charges, we still haven’t had a chance to grieve the loss of our daughter and Oregon may be the only state left years from now that still holds on to the SBS theory. Our story of what we’ve been through seems to never come to an end.

Posted by Ray
Sunday, January 17, 2010 06:13

Dr. Betty Spivak was the chief prosecution witness who testified against my neice in SBS trial in Lexington, KY. Two other experts testified for the defense. One was the former Chief Medical Examiner for the State of Kentucky. Unfortunately, the jury found my niece guilty. Now this innocent young woman is seperated from her two children and seving time in jail for a crime she didn’t commit. Families do not have the financial resources to mount a defense against the “so called-science” that Dr. Spivak uses. What a tragedy the legal system is in this country when innocent people are sent to jail because one person is on a personal crusade.

Posted by dawn child
Monday, November 23, 2009 07:28

Firstly, SBS is NOT a “default” diagnosis. Secondly physicians go through a process of ruling out everything they possibly can. Third; the research shows that these babies have suffered significant head trauma. If one does not want to call it shaking, call it what it is: severe head trauma in an infant. Many children also have suffered other injuries which support the diagnosis of head trauma. (Skull fractures, rib fractures, bruises, etc)
You should be glad that physicians don’t treat patients based upon legal decisions and what lawyers say.
The “new” evidence is not new, only reformatting of “old” arguments. The biomechanical evidence is flawed. A “crash test dummy” is not a baby. Dropping a crash test dummy off your table in your basement (yes this is how this “proven”, doesn’t prove much, only that you can’t shake a crash test dummy hard enough to hurt a baby. At one time physicists said that it was physically impossible for a bumble bee to fly, it wasn’t because they didn’t fly, it was a poor model. Immunizations do not cause this, the “old” vaccines caused a problem occasionally that was easily recognized and the vaccine was reformulated.
Don’t believe everything you hear. To every defense attorney, his/her client is innocent…Look at OJ, it just depends upon how rich you are.

Posted by kris
Tuesday, November 17, 2009 06:21

Vaccines continue to damage children more than ever before. Adverse reactions to them are hidden and lied about. The vaccine package insert says brain hemorrhaging is a reaction that happens. Doctors are trained to never blame the vaccine. If the vaccine was blamed, it would travel fast and people would not trust them. They will accuse INNOCENT parents before they have to answer to BIG PHARMA and the MEDICAL ASSOC. And loose their position. Vaccines are what the medical world is all based on. Start damaging them at birth and you have a lifetime client. Everyone trusts their doctor. WOW, what a brainwashed society. You can look at the VACCINE ADVERSE REPORTING SYSTEM ON NVIC.ORG and see the massive abuse brought on by vaccines.

Posted by Mike
Tuesday, October 13, 2009 01:39

A diagnosis of “non-accidental injury” or “abusive head trauma” is a legal, not a medical conclusion. If a physician states that abuse caused a child’s injury, he/she must specify how the injury occurred, and indicate the evidence to support the conclusion. It is insufficient to reiterate the radiographic and ophthalmologic findings, and state that abuse is the default diagnosis. The default diagnosis for signs and symptoms that a physician cannot explain with certainty is not “non-accidental injury”. It is “I don’t know”.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009 09:59

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Posted by Alice Brenner
Friday, September 11, 2009 08:50

We have a new SBS conviction in Hutto, Texas which is near Austin.
See http://www.kvue.com/news/top/stories/090909kvue_shaking_death-cb.162dd1a26.html or Hutto Father Gets 25 Years.
Please blog to this article your knowledge of this issue.
   Some believe this young man may be innocent.

Posted by randy watkins
Friday, July 17, 2009 12:59

As a citizen of this country, i’m tired of the legal system thats out of control.I cannot believe professional grown men and women cant take a better look at the legal issues facing us today. It has suprised me that our government will say that they care about kids .The first thing we do is send them to public school to get killed. We could tear down most of the schools and start over or we can kick out every trouble maker in the school.I think we should lead by example and the grown ups are doing a terrible job.

Posted by BrokenSilence
Friday, July 10, 2009 12:55

I came across this article, with gratitute to Mr Harold Levy, who leads the Charles Smith Blog, here in Canada. I have read all the previous comments and must say that it is so gut-wrenching reading about the tragedies that all of these parents have gone through and continue to go through for the rest of their lives. I too personally share the agony. J. Britton’s comments struck so close to home for me. As painful as it is to relive the loss of one of our children, it is also important for us as a family to try and be strong. I have 4 beautiful, grown children, whose very existence is my desire to live each day. They were only 5 years, 1 and half years, 3 months, and my youngest was unborn at the time I was taken away, arrested, charged, convicted and sentenced. But yet, almost 20 years later, two of my children (now 23 and 18) stood with me,, with tears in their eyes, at the Court of Appeal to hear that their mother has finally been given a chance to put up the fight for justice, that should have take place almost 2 decades earlier.

After thinking we were coping well (for almost 17years), the silence was finally broken and Dr. Charles Smith, Dr. James Young, etc… were unveiled… something I had no hope of ever happening. We thank the Goudge Inquiry for this. Dr. Smith’s pathetic and complete disregard for the lives whom he was to protect, he crushed – including the lives of our surviving children and extended families.

For me, it was the choice of the risk of being found guilty on a trial (with a not guilty plea) and spending penitentiary time and losing my children permanently or accept the guilty plea (after claiming my innocence for a year and a half), and serve 2 years less a day time in a reformatory near home, 3 years probation, and fight for the return of my surviving children. I was advised of the plea through my counsel – after much consultation and consideration, I chose the plea. My children had always been my life and whatever would result in being reunited with them sooner, was the proper choice at the time. Dr. Smith was a god-like figure in medicine – one of the best in the world. He WAS untouchable – because not even his direct superiors had time to review his work or properly investigate that he had FACTUALLY not been formally trained in forensics – in testimony, they admitted not even knowing all of this was happening under their noses. But yet, Smith had enough power to put parents/relatives in prison.

Regardless of the pain the whole experience has caused (and continues to cause) my family, I have chosen to filter my experience and energy in educating and supporting causes where injustice has occurred. I am only a small person in a world of people, but if I can make any kind of difference, as minute as it might be, I will. For the love of ALL my children. I am their mother and I will never part from them again.

Posted by TM
Thursday, July 09, 2009 06:35

I am relieved to know Audrey is finally released after all this nonsense and back and forth in the courts. My family also has personal knowledge of this nightmare. Our appeals have fallen on deaf ears, even though the appellate courts have admitted that errors were made. My daughter died much in the similar nature as did Natasha Richardson, only bleeding on the brain was in a more sinester place according to the doctors at the second hospital she landed, where bleeding was “found” after rigorous CPR was performed, along with fractured ribs. My family took out second mortages and loans to help pay for the defense the first time around. We are debt now as a result and I live in poverty conditions. My sense of trust in doctors, lawyers, police and the so-called “justice” system is shaken gravely. Everyone I expected to do their job and stop the madness never did: doctors, coroners, lawyers, police, even the judge presiding. Something is definitely wrong when doctors who have assumptions and do not do any differential diagnoses or tests to back up their claims are allowed to create a rumor that our daughter died as a result of murderous intent and police run with this. Questioning from police isn’t to elicit the truth; the interrogation is to ensure that you say what they need you to say, you give them some sense that you deliberately did anything at all. That’s all they need. The detective was downright giddy the last time I spoke to him (I refused to after that – disgusting). The prosecutor gave his career a boost for putting away a baby murderer and won the 2007 Prosecutor of the Year award. He tried to get the judge to refuse to let me speak at the sentencing. What was he afraid of, I wonder? What did I know that he was scared I’d bring up? Was it that my daughter didn’t go unconscious immediately, such as SBS is supposed to cause? I heard her vocalizing over the phone call after the 9-1-1 call my husband made. Was it the many questions that were left unanswered that I’d had about testings and missing lab work? Was it the fact that the intubation was done improperly on the ambulance ride to the 1st hospital and suddenly a baby who was talking seconds before her father carried her to the ambulance is limp and lifeless 10 minutes later upon arrival? Is it the fact that the so-called previously healing rib fractures would have had to have been a case where my husband (or anyone at all for that matter) fractured only 2 of her ribs at least 30-50 times each without ever damanging internal organs or causing bruising? SBS is a fault foundation for accusing someone of child abuse and/or murder. It’s time to ask our doctors to back up their opinions with cold hard scientific PROOF, with lab tests showing negative and being included in the records not lost and claims that they weren’t done, admitting to the CPR they did and proving it didn’t cause the bleeding in my daughter’s head or behind her eyes from that pressure nor did the CPR cause her broken ribs, and showing how all this so-called bruising found at autopsy got there when my husband was already in custody and she left the first hospital without said bruising. But my daughter’s case is not new; it’s not even original. This is precisely how every one of these cases go, according to every family I’ve spoken to and met and emailed throughout the world and all the doctors who have been diligently attempting to help me unravel this puzzle of how a diagnosis got so wrong so fast.

Audrey is free now, but she served well over a decade in prison for a crime no one committed. The family of that baby still thinks she’s a monster. Who has won? Yes, she may be free of those prison walls, but she’ll never be free from the resounding peals of the bell that was rung in our lives that no one can un-ring.

Posted by Mike
Tuesday, July 07, 2009 09:53

You are right…you can’t know what torment a SBS accussed person goes thru unless you gain that experience by going thru it. It is wrong and those accused should have the right to the same funding that the state gets, shouldn’t have other children removed from the home until proven guilty and there should be a federal mandate requiring differential diagnosis that would rule out EVERY possible other cause, no matter how rare the cause may be. We have lost the smaller of our two twins that were born 11-2008. The smaller, Cameron, passed away at 2 months old, after being born 8 weeks early for labor induced out of fear he would die. He passed away at 2 months old weighing 3 pounds less than his IDENTICAL TWIN BROTHER. Read more of our story at www.jfdv.org

This is for you Cameron and Alan is trying to help us all just as those that helped him in the past. Thank you Alan!!

Posted by J. Britton
Monday, June 29, 2009 04:45

I ask anyone and everyone who has read this great write up on the injustices surrounding SBS to blog this, send it to every one you know and inform and demand justice across news organizations and your political representatives. This witch hunt under the guise of justice is false. The doctors believing in the theory of SBS are making up the rules as they go and are pursuading police, prosecutors and jurors across the world to convict people on a mere theory while not doing their own jobs. There has to be protocols put in place for every doctor to follow when they receive an alleged suspcious case of SBS to conduct all proper procedures to rule out underlying causes or to actually believe a child can die due to a small fall or an adverse event due to a vaccination or other medication. All children are not born created equally and can have an issue lurking behind the scenes that no one is aware of that can cause an untimely death but is all so quickly to be ruled as SBS. Many of these parents claim the child was dropped or fell, had a seizure and/or started spitting up and was lethargic for no obvious reason. It is plausable that a child can die unexpectedly and these things can be the trigger point to lead to death. What I want to know, how many children die unnecessarily due to doctors NOT treating the right condition? If a doctor did perform his duties and ruled out possible other ailments, would they treat the right condition versus automatically treating an SBS “theoried” symptom? Perhaps the medications they provide to bring down swelling and the wait and see method is the very thing killing these babies versus treating things like childhood stroke, underlying medical ailments, adverse reactions to vaccinations or other environmental factors. We owe it to not only the falsely accused but we owe to the children who are dying perhaps to improper medical care that is so quickly covered up.

Read about Alan Yurko or Ken Marsh if you want two more examples outside of Audrey. There are many, many other people who have fell victim to not only mourning the loss of a child but also faced with prison time unjustly. Pathologists such as Dr. Haynes and Dr. Smith (Canada) are not the only one’s committing gross errors. There are many doctors lending their name to the pro-SBS (abusive head injury) movement and whenever someone contradicts them in or out the courtroom, they are discredited merely because they did not see the actual “victim” or they were paid. Every person who testifies as an expert for the state or the defense is paid. Jurors do not understand that and it’s a factor in deciding guilt. Prosecutors are ruthless and if prosecutors can win a case on so-called science, why are the theatrics provided such as gruesome autopsy pictures blown up of the little babies and children? Is that not to inflame the jurors? Why do they use such statements as “Little precious Bobby is screaming out from the grave begging and crying to you to throw this evil, horrible, abusive monstor behind jail?” If the science was there, and it’s not, why can’t the facts be used? Jurors that hear from a sound, experienced defense expert have a high degree of not finding guilt because SBS is a theory and there are many other factors at play. It’s sad to see that I would guess nearly all those convicted of SBS are there because they had a court appointed attorney or had to pay for an attorney that has a high court case and little, if no SBS experience.

It should not be about the money if someone is charged with SBS. Those that accept plea and state they did in fact shake a child are most likely scared beyond belief and took the plea due to an attorney advising him/her to do so. Going through an SBS trial is something that you would only understand if you had a family member that did. It’s a horrible, life alterating experience that opens your eyes and changes how you think.

Posted by Sheila Berry
Sunday, June 28, 2009 08:31

While I agree with Maurice Possley — whom I respect and admire — that mistaken diagnoses of SBS have sent many innocent people to prison, I must clarify the course of exoneration for Audrey Edmunds. The original medical examiner, forensic pathologist Dr. Robert Huntington, DID change his mind on the cause of infant Natalie Beard’s death and testified to that at a state habeas proceeding. In addition, 5 more forensic pathologists testified that the evidence originally offered in the case was scientifically invalid. The state presented 2 medical doctors whose careers have been built on testifying for the prosecution in SBS cases, Dr. Betty Spivack and Dr. William Perloff, who stuck to the original SBS diagnosis. Dane County Circuit Judge Daniel Moeser, who heard all this testimony, DENIED Audrey’s bid for a new trial. He said that the experts CANCELLED EACH OTHER OUT, and based his decision on his recollection of Audrey’s demeanor at her 1996 trial. It was the Court of Appeals that vacated Audrey’s conviction, not the trial judge who heard the state habeas. While I understand the need for brevity in recounting a case that took 11 years in the courts, it is misleading to leave out the fact of the judge’s intractable prejudice against Audrey Edmunds. Like so many other judges (and prosecutors), Judge Moeser has never seen a defendant who is not guilty.

Posted by The Agitator » Blog Archive » Sunday Links
Sunday, June 28, 2009 08:14

[…] New report casts fresh doubt on “shaken baby syndrome.” […]

Posted by Matt Stroud - The Prison Dilemma - How Many ‘Shaken Baby Syndrome’ Convictions Will Be Overturned? - True/Slant
Friday, June 26, 2009 02:41

[…] in the early ’70s  — may be more difficult to diagnose than once thought. A story at The Crime Report describes the unfortunate case of Audrey Edmunds, a former daycare provider sentenced to an 18 year […]

Posted by Toddler activities
Wednesday, June 24, 2009 09:04

Thanks so much for this. Sorry, I don’t have any money to donate yet but i’ll be sure to tell lots of people about this, and i’ll definitely be contributing soon.

Posted by Shaken Baby Syndrome convictions come under scrutiny | Innocence Project of Florida
Tuesday, June 23, 2009 07:27

[…] Price-winner Maurice Possley has a lengthy article on Shaken Baby Syndrome today on TheCrimeReport.org. At the time the case was unremarkable—one of thousands of successful […]

Posted by Science undermining ’shaken baby syndrome’ cases | Texas Real Estate
Monday, June 22, 2009 05:36

[…] So-called “shaken baby syndrome” is another area where it increasingly appears that flawed forensic testimony helped secure numerous false convictions over the years, particularly among parents and child care workers: According to an essay by Maurice Possley at The Crime Report: […]

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