Susan C. Anthony

Shaken Baby Syndrome: Case Summaries 1 - 100

A Tragedy and a Mystery  Shaken (book)  |  Wrongly Accused of Shaking a Baby?  |   Links and Resources

Cases 1 - 100  |  Cases 101 - 200  |  Cases 201 - 300  |  Cases 301 - 400Cases 401 - 444

After collecting information for years, I lost track of which case was which and needed a way to organize the volumes of information I had. I used Filemaker Pro to put together a searchable database.

It concerns me that most people don't see the "forest" (the big picture) for the "trees" (individual cases). I've posted these summaries to give people a sense of the big picture. I have an additional 882 cases in the database at this time, but 444 is enough to discern patterns.

These cases include some that are certainly abuse, some that are certainly not, and every shade of gray between. Few cases are clear. Even doctors disagree, yet jurors with no medical background are charged with the awesome responsibility of determining truth, sometimes based on nothing more than which expert witness seems more sure of himself or more likable. Jurors determine the futures of not only defendants, but their undeniably innocent children and families. Most jurors are parents who love their children. They weep to see photos of a seemingly healthy baby who is no more. It is difficult to approach the facts in a shaken baby case with cool rationality.

Because these cases are so complex, they are extremely expensive to prosecute and defend. Even when acquitted, many people are unable to rebuild their lives. All sources of family funding are exhausted for defense, thereby robbing living children of a secure home, college savings, and hope. Families are shattered, even when everyone in the family knows the accused person is innocent. Children are taken into foster care, spouses not suspected are told that unless they divorce, they cannot regain custody of their children.

Although the highest price is paid by the defendant and his/her family, every member of society pays. It costs about $100,000 to build a prison cell—$200,000 over 25 years to pay off the construction debt. The cost of incarceration varies, averaging $30,000 per year in federal prisons. The public also pays for police investigators, social workers, medical examiners, prosecutors, public defenders, judges, court buildings, appeals courts, on and on and on. Not to mention public support of families bankrupted and left destitute. Or compensation paid to people who have been exonerated. Or lost productivity. Or the cost of attempting to repair shattered lives.

The government has a solemn responsibility to get this right.

Identifying information was removed from the summaries out of respect for people who want to move on with their lives and leave the nightmare behind, who don't want their kids' friends finding their story with an Internet name search. Each case has been assigned an arbitrary ID number.

Keep in mind as you read these summaries that more than 99% of criminal cases are resolved by plea bargain. Anyone who goes to trial has refused offers to plea bargain. In doing so, they've risked getting a sentence five times as harsh as if they'd plea bargained. Even innocent people plea bargain after considering risks and costs. Guilty people nearly always do.

I cannot vouch that all my news sources were accurate. I assume essential facts were reported correctly. I do not know who is innocent and who is guilty. My point is that jurors don't know, either. Nor do prosecutors or medical experts who testify. They may think they know, but do they?

Centuries ago, pioneers died of scurvy in the far north because they didn't know that all they needed was Vitamin C, abundant in rose hips around them. Doctors once sincerely and without malice believed that using leeches to bleed patients cured certain conditions. Although medical science is more advanced than it was then, it is not more advanced than it will be 20 years from now.

Ask yourself as you read, "What if there is something doctors don't yet know? What if there's a missing piece of the puzzle that would make it all make sense, perhaps an unknown genetic or environmental condition, or a combination of factors working together? What if some of these people are actually innocent?"

Could their stories have been yours, but for the grace of God?

Cases 1 - 100  |  Cases 101 - 200  |  Cases 201 - 300  |  Cases 301 - 400Cases 401 - 444

0001  The defendant’s wife, 36, picked up the 6-month-old baby at 7:15 a.m. at his parents’ home. She says he was fine when she left him with her husband at 4:15 p.m. When her husband, a state trooper for 8 years, took the baby back to his mother, he was unresponsive, pale, stiff, and his eyelids were fluttering. The baby was in the hospital for 10 days and received seizure medication for several months thereafter. The defendant was placed on administrative leave from his job.

A former police officer testified that the infant’s injuries could have been inflicted 48 hours prior to the baby’s return to his mother. An eight-woman, five-man jury found him innocent of child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury.

The baby recovered fully.

0002:  Authorities initially believed the 3-month-old infant died from shaken baby syndrome. An autopsy revealed she was likely struck on the back of the head with a hard object. Death, they said, was apparently caused by a blow to the back of the head that caused the brain to swell. The child had an older bruise on the head and a broken elbow. The father, 25, was arrested and charged with six counts of first-degree murder.

Another child was removed from the home and also showed evidence of abuse, a straight-line bruise with an electrical cord imprint.

At the time the baby was allegedly beaten, her mother was in the county jail on domestic battery charges for throwing a phone that struck the father in the face. She said he had threatened to take her two children and go live with an old girlfriend.

The father was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 40 years. He will be required to serve the entire sentence.

0003:  The father, 31, was Tongan-born with an exemplary record. He was a preacher at a Tongan church. He admitted to shaking his 3-month-old baby, his third child, four times between October 20 and November 20, each time increasing in intensity and duration. The fourth episode was the longest and hardest. When it ended, the boy was not breathing and his lips had turned blue. The father administered CPR and revived the boy. He did not seek medical help or tell his wife.

Two days later, the baby suffered uncontrollable seizures and was taken to the hospital. He was revived and has recovered.

The father demonstrated to police how hard he shook using a doll. He gripped the doll under the arms and shook it rapidly backwards and forwards and from side to side. He said he would become angry with his son when he spit up or made a mess. He admitted to being aware that shaking could injure the child, yet maintained he never intended to hurt his son. He expressed regret and showed remorse for what he had done.

He pleaded guilty and was jailed for three years and nine months. The baby recovered.

0004: According to authorities, the 5-month-old baby appeared to be fine when he was dropped off for his second day at day care. The sitter reported to the mother that day that the baby was throwing up and had a fever of 102. The parents took no action but did bring the baby back to the sitter the next day. At the end of the day, the baby was very sleepy and breathing abnormally.

When the baby did not regain consciousness the next day, the mother took him to the hospital. Doctors found retinal hemorrhaging and a subdural hematoma.

The sitter, 35, was accused of shaking him. She pleaded not guilty to aggravated child abuse. “She is not afraid to be here,” said the attorney at the hearing. “She’s not afraid to show her face because she knows that she did not do anything wrong.” She says the baby was sick when he came to her. He wouldn’t stop crying and he had breathing problems.

“It’s scary,” said the defense attorney. “Each one of us who takes care of a neighbor’s child or a family member’s child and a day or two later something’s wrong and they decide, ‘Well, I didn’t do it and if I claim I don’t know who did it, then you’re on the hook now.’ What’s that based on?”

The baby was given heavy anti-seizure medication. He continued vomiting a lot. The mother started a blog to elicit national sympathy and donations. For a while it was the biggest hit site on Every time she posted a blog, thousands of people responded with supportive comments and kudos from all over the world. She had more than 29,000 respondents. Online petitions for innocence as well as for “justice” for the baby were launched.

Authorities said the injuries were sustained either the day the child was brought to the hospital or the day before.

Eventually, the defendant took a plea bargain and was sentenced to 16 months.

0005: The 35-year-old babysitter, originally from El Salvador, first told police that the 11-month-old baby fell downstairs. She changed her story during police questioning “because she was afraid of police and just wanted to go home.” She was charged with assault causing bodily harm.

While the jury waited in the wings for two days, both sides argued on the admissibility of statements the defendant had made to police. When the judge ruled that the statement was inadmissible, the prosecution dropped the charges, citing insufficient evidence to proceed.

Most signs of shaken baby syndrome were not present in the child and the baby appears to have fully recovered. The judge said the defendant did not sufficiently understand her right to a lawyer. “This person is from a war-torn country who has a fear of police and English is not her first language.” In such a case, said the judge, police must take steps to ensure a person’s constitutional rights are not violated.

0006: The father, 26, was taking care of his 1-month-old child when she began crying. He said he tried to give her some milk, but she choked. He patted her on the back and lightly bounced her on his knee. He said the baby then started clenching her fists and putting them to her face. “Then she just went limp,” he said. “She was unresponsive. Her eyes never opened. I didn’t know what to do.” The mother came home and learned what had happened. “She just couldn’t open her eyes,” the mother said. “At first I thought she was just sleeping. But she wasn’t waking up.”

The mother believes the child’s injuries stem from a difficult birth. During the later stages of her pregnancy, she had been in and out of the hospital with early contractions and bleeding. Her water partially broke. During birth, the baby was breach and would not come out. The cord was wrapped around her neck. The doctors decided on an emergency C-section.

The baby barely cried during her first weeks of life. At about 2 weeks, the mother noticed blood coming from her nose. Doctors said it was thrush.

At the hospital after her collapse, emergency workers closed the curtain and wouldn’t let the parents watch. The parents felt immediately under suspicion. Police came and interviewed both of them separately. There was excess blood on the baby’s brain and it had to be drained. She stayed in the hospital 12 days.

The father insists he never shook the child. The baby did not have bruises, neck injuries, or broken bones. The police detective testified that the father admitted it was possible he shook the baby but not too hard. The father told a reporter, “I would never shake a child!” He took a plea bargain because he was the last person with the child.

By the time of the plea bargain, the defendant had been in jail for five months. His bond had been set at $500,000, an amount he was unable to raise.

The baby recovered.

0007:  The 38-year-old defendant, a printer and father of five, was at home because of an on-the-job injury. He loved being with his own children and decided to take in other kids. An 11-month-old child he was babysitting was found unresponsive and the defendant called 911. The baby died five days later. At autopsy, blood was found in his brain, “consistent with shaken baby syndrome.” When questioned, the defendant consistently maintained that he did not harm the boy. Friends and relatives contributed about $80,000 to his defense. He sold his home and vacation property to raise the $150,000 bond.

The day the trial was scheduled, prosecutors decided not to pursue charges “after a further review of the evidence.” A relative of the boy had come forward with new information, which was not disclosed. The death is still considered a homicide but no further details were forthcoming.

“People came forward who had information that wasn’t discovered. People stepped forward to do the right thing. Thank God they did!” said the defendant.

The defendant’s wife said, “We went through 14 months of hell. My husband loves kids and he is the best father in the whole world. We are happy to have our family back and we can move on.” They plan to help raise money for a gravestone for the baby.

A year after the trial, the defendant sued the local police department and the state police for unreasonable seizure, false arrest/imprisonment, illegal interrogation and malicious prosecution.

0008:  The 29-year-old defendant and her husband spent $24,000 to adopt a 12-month-old boy from Guatemala. He was 21 months old when he collapsed and died. He had four ear infections and pink eye the last four months of his life. He was given a 4th HEPB vaccine six weeks before his collapse. He weighed 30 pounds at death. He had been having what appeared to be temper tantrums and the parents were inexperienced. The father spanked him the night before with a wooden spoon. He was charged with assault. One contentious issue was whether a spanking by the father could be mentioned in the mother’s trial. The judge allowed it.

On February 14, the mother called 911, saying the baby was not breathing. She told police he had fallen several times. The baby was transported to a major medical center, where doctors examined the CT scans and concluded that the injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome. A neurosurgeon believed the only hope for his survival was to relieve the pressure on his brain by evacuating the blood that had collected in his head. Following the procedure, and after noting the condition of the blood that came out of the baby’s head, the neurosurgeon opined that the baby had suffered a “very, very recent injury, in other words, something that was unlikely to be days, weeks, or months of age.” Other doctors concurred.

The mother did not testify in her own defense. More than a dozen expert doctors testified on both sides in a very emotional trial. After 18 hours of deliberations, the jury reached an impasse and a mistrial was declared.

At the second trial, the admissibility of the spanking was discussed again. This time, the court disallowed some details about the spanking.

The second trial was delayed a number of times because the defense medical expert had not finished her report of findings. On the seventh day of trial, the day before she was to testify, the expert said she had discovered an abnormality in the baby’s brain which was likely evidence of a seizure disorder. The court ruled that the doctor could not testify to these findings because of the time of the disclosure.

At the second trial, the defendant was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to eight years, with all but 42 months suspended, and three years probation. An appeal all the way to the state Supreme Court ensued, arguing that the spanking by the baby’s father should not have been admitted and that the testimony by defendant’s expert should have been admitted. All appeals were unsuccessful and the conviction stood.

0009:  The 2 1/2-year-old baby had had a cancerous brain tumor removed a few months prior to her death and was recovering from chemo and radiation. The mother’s boyfriend, 22, testified that he watched the girl from 9:30 until noon while the mother ran errands, then left the girl with her mother for about three hours to get treatment for a foot injury. When he returned after 3:00, the baby did not look well. A 911 call was made at 4:50 p.m. but by the time emergency workers arrived, it was too late.

The mother’s boyfriend was arrested and charged with second degree murder.

The jury deliberated an hour and acquitted, saying that although some of them believed the girl had been shaken, detectives failed to show who hurt her. “The state just didn’t prove its case. The police didn’t investigate enough,” said one juror. “They never questioned the mother much. They stuck with the defendant from the start,” stated the foreman.

The defendant is an illegal immigrant from Nicaragua. He then faced an INS hearing and likely deportation.

0010:  The baby’s birth was very traumatic. He was diagnosed shortly after birth with Rubenstein-Taybi Syndrome (RTS), an extremely rare genetic disorder. Only 600 cases have been studied worldwide. The baby spent the first six weeks of his life at the hospital, suffering from choking, seizures, coughing and vomiting. At one point he needed tracheal stimulation.

Three weeks after his discharge, 9 weeks after his birth, a doctor performing an eye exam noticed retinal bleeding. He reported his findings to the Department of Social Services. There was no other evidence of injury and the parents denied handling him roughly. The Department of Social Services queried doctors and found one of four doctors at Kaiser, who concluded that the retinal hemorrhages were the result of “non-accidental trauma.” A petition was filed to make the baby a ward of court.

A judge ordered that the father, 22, could not be around the child unsupervised and placed many strong restrictions on the family, which had previously been described by social workers as “a very cohesive family.” Eye specialists said the hemorrhages varied in age and some probably dated to birth.

After a year and a day, the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled there was no evidence to establish that the injuries occurred when the baby was in the custody of his parents.

The defendant and his wife sued the county alleging social worker misconduct as related to perjury and failing to disclose known exculpatory evidence. The suit was not successful.

0011:  The father, 39, claims he was carrying his 5-month-old child when he tripped and fell on top of the boy. He said he shook the child in an attempt to revive him.

The judge ruled to allow the prosecution to mention at trial that the father was looking at porn sites on the Internet on the morning the baby collapsed, that he had smoked marijuana that day (two puffs), and that he had lost his job over alleged steroid use, to which his girlfriend had alerted police the previous September. This was to provide a “mosaic” of the defendant’s relationships and stresses in order to put the alleged crime into context.

Skull fractures were reported.

The baby’s mother and her family supported him and called him a devoted father. He accepted a plea bargain and was very remorseful at the sentencing hearing. He was sentenced to seven years.

0012:  The defendant, 20, had no criminal history. He was watching his girlfriend’s 18-month-old child. He called for medical help after calling the mother and grandmother.

The suspect was held in jail on a high bond. It took months and months, while the defendant was in custody, for the hospital to release the medical records. The defense lawyer said, “We literally had to move heaven and earth to get them.”

The defense expert testified that the child didn’t have cervical, spine or neck injuries and weighed 25 pounds. He believed the injuries were caused by a fall. The child recovered.

The defendant was acquitted at trial.

0013:  Early in the morning, the father, 29, and his girlfriend put their children into a car and drove to where the girlfriend had an orientation for a new job. The father waited with the children in the car in a parking garage for seven hours. The baby, who was born three months premature, used a breathing monitor because her lungs were underdeveloped. It made a piercing sound, which the prosecution claimed caused the father to snap and shake the 6-month-old child to death. He had no criminal history.

According to testimony, the baby had just finished a bottle of milk when she stopped breathing in the back seat of the car. Her father, who was in the back seat with her, shouted to a security guard standing nearby in the parking garage. According to defense lawyers, he was frantically trying to save his daughter, pleading, “Breathe for Daddy! Breathe for Daddy” after the baby threw her head back and arched her back in a seizure, choked on vomited milk and stopped breathing.

Prosecutors claim he was covering up a secret, that his infant daughter had stopped breathing because he had killed her in a fit of frustration. Prosecutors alleged that the father became so annoyed over the repeated, piercing alarm of the breathing monitor that he violently shook her until the tiny blood vessels around her eyes burst, causing bleeding on her brain and causing her to stop bleeding.

The physician from China who performed the autopsy was not licensed in the state and had never performed an autopsy in a case of suspected homicide. The jurors concluded that the baby had been shaken by the father, but they weren’t willing to conclude that the shaking, beyond a reasonable doubt, led to the baby’s death. They called the autopsy “totally botched.”

The father was acquitted of murder but convicted of reckless endangerment and sentenced to five years.

0014:  The 4-month-old girl was brought to a health clinic not breathing, with seizures, bruises on her left leg, broken ribs, two hemorrhaging retinas and a bruised brain. Her two older brothers had earlier been removed from the home and placed in foster care. They were returned to the mother a week prior to this incident.

The girl spent the next 13 years in a bed or wheelchair, suffering from seizures and unable to walk, talk or see. She had to be fed through a stomach tube. Both parents were convicted of child abuse and served more than 10 years.

The girl’s paternal grandmother took her to CNN appearances, candlelight vigils and high school assemblies to spotlight shaken baby syndrome, calling her “the best ambassador for shaken baby syndrome because she was totally disabled, but she had the most beautiful smile in the world.”

The girl died of pneumonia 13 years after the initial incident. Prosecutors were considering whether to file murder charges. The grandmother was insulted and furious that prosecutors insisted on an autopsy. She wanted to hold an open casket funeral and invite the girl’s many fans and friends. She said she hoped her son would not be charged for murder. “I don’t want to live through a trial,” she said. “It would tarnish [the girl’s] memory to go through that again.”

Prosecutors said they could charge the parents again without violating their constitutional protection against double jeopardy because the charges would be different. A law professor, commenting on the case, said prosecutors would be hard-pressed to prove a direct cause in this case, but jurors might still be willing to convict because of the girl’s suffering.

0015:  The 2-month-old girl was admitted to the hospital in medical distress after her father, 24, called 911 because she wasn’t breathing. She had been sick and vomiting. The father was arrested in the hospital parking lot and put in jail without bail. He was not allowed to attend the baby’s funeral.

The arrest was based on the opinion of a doctor who told police the infant was “violently shaken” within minutes of the 911 call.

The Medical Examiner’s office disagreed, saying the evidence was ambiguous and additional tests needed to be done. His findings resulted in the charges being dropped.

0016:  The baby’s father returned home from work one day to discover his son was not breathing. He died a day later. The baby had retinal hemorrhages and brain swelling, but no subdural bleeding.

The mother, 24, was arrested and charged with first degree felony murder.

The defense asserted that the 3-month-old baby died from an adverse reaction to a routine immunization. He died 54 days after receiving the shot. Prosecutors argue that any such reaction would have come within a week.

The case ended with an Alford plea, with a sentence of probation and therapy.

Prosecutors said they allowed the plea deal because three similar cases were rejected in the past year by juries in the area, and the evidence in this case was not as conclusive, in their view, as the evidence in those cases.

The director of the National Center of Shaken Baby Syndrome expressed disappointment that prosecutors didn’t get an admission or confession. “An Alford plea doesn’t get us anywhere,” he said. He was concerned that the lack of an admission in a case like this furthers the misconception that shaken baby syndrome is a myth.

A family court judge denied custody of a 3-year-old sibling to the father, who was not a criminal suspect, and did not allow the father to testify at the juvenile court hearing. The boy was placed with grandparents. The parents appealed and the state court of appeals ordered the judge to conduct a new hearing and allow both parents to participate. An investigation by CPS determined that the child was not in danger from either parent.

0017:  The babysitter, 28, who was watching children of relatives without being paid, insists she is innocent. Prosecutors offered a plea bargain: a misdemeanor that would have been expunged after one year if she underwent counseling and committed no other crimes. She refused, saying she’d rather face a trial and a prison sentence than plead guilty to crimes she did not commit.

She claims the 8-month-old baby fell out of a “bouncy chair.” A three-year-old boy saw the fall and was quite talkative about it. He was allowed to testify at a hearing. The baby recovered completely.

The defense medical expert testified that the injuries could have been caused by a fall.

“My client is innocent,” said the defense attorney. “A more appropriate response for the state should be an apology.”

The judge said he would postpone making a decision on binding the case over for trial until he got briefs from both sides summarizing the complicated medical testimony the case had generated since the preliminary hearing. He dismissed the case for lack of evidence.

0018:  The 17-month-old baby had fallen on his face and hit his head earlier in the day when his playpen was overturned. Some time later, he began vomiting and became lethargic. Injuries included an epidural hematoma and multiple bilateral retinal hemorrhages. His step-grandfather and custodian, 59, was arrested and charged with injury to a child.

A brain surgeon testified for the state. The defense had no experts. The defendant’s ex-wife (baby’s grandmother) sobbed, “I’m not saying that he did or didn’t do it, but he was the only one there.” The defendant said, “I did not hurt this child. I swear before you and on my soul.”

The jury deliberated only 35 minutes before rendering a “not guilty” verdict. Two of the jurors knew people who had bumped their heads and died days later, after feeling fine. Jurors felt there were several possibilities for what injured the child and the case was not proved. The baby appears to have recovered.

The defendant smiled and and shook the hands of jurors, saying to each one, “God bless you.” The jury foreman said, “It was a tragic case, but at the end of the day we did not make the emotional decision. We ruled on the evidence given to us.”

Said the defense attorney, “From the first time I met our client to today, the last day of trial, I have believed he is innocent.”

0019:  The baby was born prematurely and had been hospitalized for weeks. She had only been home from the hospital for two days and was 5 weeks old when she stopped breathing. The mother called 911, saying said had shaken the child but was not able to revive her. The baby died and the initial cause of death was listed as SIDS.

Two years later, police charged the mother, 34, with murder, based on the autopsy findings of an intern in training. The intern’s supervisor disagreed with that autopsy conclusion but police proceeded anyway. Two days into her trial, she pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.

Six years after the girl died, her mother agreed to a tubal ligation within 90 days as part of a plea bargain. Bill O’Reilly criticized the handling of this case, the first known criminal case in the state in which a woman agreed to undergo sterilization, at taxpayer expense, to avoid prison. People questioned whether the plea bargain was ethical, constitutional or too lenient. The mother has had eight children. Six were taken from her, one was missing, and she was accused of killing this one.

Following the plea bargain and Bill O’Reilly’s coverage, there was a move to recall the District Attorney, spearheaded by an area Legal Foundation.

0020:  The defendant, 38, and most of his family maintained that he did not kill his 5 1/2 month baby boy. After his conviction for involuntary manslaughter and assault, a supporter said “no stone will be left unturned” in pursuit of appeals.

There was hemorrhaging in the brain but no bruises.

The defendant’s brother had testified that the defendant admitted shaking the baby during a telephone conversation on Christmas Day.

After conviction, the defendant was sentenced to 5-10 years but allowed to remain free on $150,000 bail pending the exhaustion of appeals.

Two and a half years later, the supreme court of the state denied a Petition for Allowance of Appeal.

An uncle instituted a flag football memorial tournament in the baby’s name.

0021:  A first baby died in 1999. There was no evidence of foul play and the death was was attributed to SIDS, but the case was reopened after a second child died under similar circumstances.

When his 8-month-old daughter died in 2001, the father, 35, gave different versions as to how he discovered her lifeless body. The 911 operator said he was “nonchalant” when he called. One doctor said both deaths were due to suffocation. Another found three broken blood vessels in the baby’s eyes and other head injuries. “The findings are consistent with either fatal abusive head injury or asphyxia,” he said.

The father was reported to have overcome previous problems with drugs and alcohol abuse. He had served in the military and had no criminal record. There was a $5000 life insurance policy on his infant daughter. Most evidence was circumstantial and no motive was suggested. The baby’s mother said she believes he is innocent, and all members of his family were supportive.

One medical expert said the odds of two SIDS deaths in one family in less than three years were 1 in 25.8 billion.

Facing a possible 100 years in prison, the defendant accepted an Alford Plea to first degree reckless homicide, reduced from first degree intentional homicide. The prosecution did not recommend a sentence. The judge sentenced the man to 30 years for the death of one child and 20 years for the death of the other, to be served consecutively, with 20 years of extended supervision. The court expressed a desire to keep the man in prison until he was 70 years old.

An appeal arguing that the lengthy consecutive sentences were unduly harsh failed. The appeals court wrote, “A sentence within the statutory maximum is presumptively valid if it does not shock the public’s conscience.”

0022:  The babysitter, 44, maintained her innocence and said the 2-year-old girl jumped off an 18-inch highchair and hit her head on a carpeted floor. She had been doing day care for 15 years with no problems.

The defendant said she was in the bathroom while the girl and two boys were playing. She claimed she heard one of the boys say, “I know you can do it.” Then she heard a loud noise, and opened the door to see the girl on the floor, her head near a door jamb. The sitter did not see the fall. A 3-year-old boy witnessed to the fall was not allowed to testify.

A grand jury upgraded the charge from manslaughter ($25,000 bail) to second degree murder ($75,000 bail) committed under circumstances displaying “a depraved indifference to human life.” The prosecutor asked for $150,000 bail.

The judge said, “This is going to be a battle of the doctors, basically, on how this injury was caused.”

Prosecution experts stated that nothing but violent shaking could have caused the amount of bleeding found in the girl’s brain. A defense expert, former medical examiner for the county, said that the lack of nerve damage in the little girl’s brain proves that the injuries were not caused by shaking.

Upon hearing the verdict of guilty, the defendant collapsed with an asthma attack and was rushed to the hospital.

An appeals court reduced the sentence from 25 years to life to 15 years to life. The baby’s family, active in the Shaken Baby Alliance, collected some 1,600 signatures, many of them online, requesting the Appellate Division to reconsider the reduction in sentence.

0023:  After repeated bouts with vomiting and swelling to her head, the 3-month-old baby was hospitalized for six days, but has not suffered severe complications since. Doctors discovered bleeding in her brain and concluded the injuries were caused by shaking.

Authorities initially targeted the parents as suspects and removed the child from their custody. Three weeks later, the babysitter, 27, confessed to shaking the child to calm her, saying she had cried continually and was “fussier than usual.” After her confession, the baby was returned to the parents.

After a 3 1/2 day trial, she was found guilty of recklessly causing great bodily harm to a child. Jurors agreed that although she did not intend to harm the child, she did so.

The parents subsequently sued the babysitter, her employer, and an insurance company for negligence, claiming that the day care center had knowledge of prior incidents of inappropriate and aggressive conduct. They responded that she had a clean record. “The lady had no problems at all that we are aware of. She appeared to be very qualified.”

0024:  An 8-month-old baby was admitted to the hospital with a spinal cord injury and severe swelling and bleeding in his brain. A doctor told a detective it was a “classic case” of shaken baby syndrome. “There’s no doubt in my mind that this young child was shaken and slammed,” he declared.

Defense experts argued that a fall earlier in the week led to the baby’s death. Three days prior to the his collapse, a baby sitter tripped, fell and dropped him in a parking lot. On the day of the baby’s collapse, the father, 42, said the child fell off the bed. He said he found the baby on the floor, lifeless and having trouble bleeding. The baby had normal skin color and could breathe on his own by the time emergency workers arrived, but he died two days later.

Based on the breakdown of blood in the baby’s brain, two doctors who testified for the defense concluded the serious fall in the parking lot caused significant damage and brain bleeding. They said the spinal cord injury was probably caused when a breathing tube was put down his throat.

A jury of seven men and five women took just a little more than an hour to acquit the father of involuntary manslaughter. About 30 supporters attended the trial.

0025:  After the father, a 34-year-old dentist, picked up his 6-month-old son and jostled him on a bed, he collapsed and was taken to Children’s Hospital. Since that time, the child has been in an incurable vegetative state, breathing with mechanical help. The father passed a polygraph but was arrested and charged with murder.

Defense experts testified that the child suffered from a seizure disorder.

The jury’s verdict was “not guilty”.

0026:  The parents brought the 10-week-old baby to an urgent-care facility, then to the hospital emergency room. He had subdural bleeding, a bruised scrotum area, retinal hemorrhaging and internal bleeding. He couldn’t focus his eyes normally, was lethargic, and couldn’t use one arm. The father, who was alone with the child when he collapsed, said he fell off a changing table. The mother had been gone for only 30 minutes to an hour. The father, 28, had been convicted the previous year of felony stealing and has multiple traffic violations.

Custody of the baby was transferred to juvenile authorities.

It took two trips to the courtroom for the defendant to plead guilty as part of a plea bargain. On his first visit, he sobbed, saying, “If I did it, it was unintentional. I don’t feel responsible for what happened.” The judge said she could not accept a plea bargain with that statement. He left and returned several hours later to plead guilty. He was sentenced to 7 years, to be served after he completes his sentence for theft.

The baby survived.

0027:  The 15-month-old baby came to the sitter about 9:00 a.m. Shortly after 2:00 p.m., she called 911 to say the child was unresponsive. The infant was found to have a 5-inch skull fracture and other injuries. It took more than a year for charges to be filed. Authorities depended on medical evidence to estimate a time of injury. Eventually the babysitter, 56, was charged with first degree murder.

The judge ruled that $50,000 of the defendant’s bail bond funds could be placed in a trust for medical specialists to testify in her defense.

A bench trial was repeatedly delayed. The defense attorney said, “She maintains her innocence, and we continue to believe the weakness of the state’s case will be made known at trial.” The defense maintains the child was injured prior to her arrival at the sitter’s. The prosecution claimed collapse would have occurred immediately after the injuries were sustained. Extremely detailed testimony on how the brain reacts to severe trauma was the core of the case.

The trial was “a scientific duel” between experts. A reporter wrote, “whether [the babysitter] bought true justice or a false acquittal, she clearly had to buy it.”

About $100,000 was spent on the defense, $40,000 for investigators and a panel of medical experts.

Four and a half years after the baby’s death, the sitter was acquitted.

0028:  A babysitter was charged with aggravated battery of a 4-month old child.

A pediatric specialist diagnosed shaken baby syndrome. But the defendant’s family and attorney sought out a specialist associated with Harvard University who contended the baby’s injuries could be connected to a rare disease. That opinion was enough to plant a question in the first expert’s mind, enough for him to ask to be excused from testifying for the prosecution.

After two years, charges were dropped because “differing state-of-the-art medical opinions couldn’t be reconciled into a single, convincing diagnosis.”

“The defendant was lucky that her family had the resources to search out someone with a solid reputation, from Harvard, and then to get a medical opinion that was seen in a good light by the prosecution expert,” commented one observer.

0029:  A 40-year-old day care worker and wife of the assistant pastor at a Baptist church was arrested after two children, on two occasions, were hospitalized after being in her care at the church. She was accused of shaking them violently and spent five and a half years in prison after being convicted in the first case.

She plea bargained in the second case. Her husband said it was because she didn’t want to miss any more time with her children. “She felt that this was the only thing she could do. And justice wasn’t served.”

According to a defense expert, her conviction was based on perjured testimony by the State’s medical expert. Her lawyer did not arrange for a defense expert to testify on her behalf at trial. She appealed on the basis of ineffective counsel.

A judge who had heard from most medical experts in a previous pretrial hearing ruled that the medical evidence did not support the jury’s verdict.

The first child’s mother became an advocate for child abuse victims after her son’s injury. She ran a website on shaken baby syndrome and appeared on the Dr. Phil show. Two years after her appearance on Dr. Phil, she was charged with trying to murder her 59-year-old mother with an iron plumbing tool by striking her multiple times in the head. The mother fell to the floor and pretended to be dead. Investigators said the daughter then went through the house to make it appear that her mother had been the victim of a home invasion. After she left, the mother called 911.

0030:  The baby was a newborn boy still at the hospital. The mother, 37, is a home health care provider and former pediatric nurse. A nurse at the hospital reported she saw the mother grab the baby by his head and shake him while saying, “Never shake a baby.”

A doctor told police the baby had bleeding around his eyes. The baby was put in the care of CPS and the mother was charged with felony injury to a child. The mother begged officials to place the baby with family members rather than in foster care. “It was terrible to have him in foster care and for me to be in jail less than a week after surgery. There’s no way to make that up.”

A month later, a judge dismissed the charges. The prosecuting attorney said there was “no evidence she caused any trauma to the child.” According to a reporter, “a web of incorrect information, including inaccurate reports of broken bones, provided mistaken supporting material for [the nurse’s] claim. The baby, born in late July, was diagnosed with retinal hemorrhaging, a condition that can be linked to abuse but sometimes occurs in newborns after normal delivery.”

The mother claimed that she was not shaking the baby as the nurse claimed but trying to get him to open his eyes for a picture. A professional photographer was present.

The baby’s court-appointed guardian said, “The state failed to conduct a thorough investigation and it failed to keep a child safe.”

0031:  The 9-week-old baby was taken by ambulance to the hospital twice after having difficulty breathing, vomiting, turning blue and limp. The first time doctors diagnosed a form of acid reflux.

The second time the baby’s father, 25, said the child started to cry loudly and then stopped breathing. He had a seizure as well as retinal and subdural bleeding, evidence of a previous brain injury and a healing fracture of the collarbone.

Both times he was in the sole care of his father when 911 was dialed.

The case was initially investigated and dropped because of no evidence as to who might have injured the child. It was reopened later by another detective and brought to trial.

Several witnesses testified that the father was very calm and never lost his temper, but the mother did have problems with temper and immaturity. She had refused to take anger management classes. At one point she stormed out of the courtroom.

Five and a half years after the second 911 call, the father was acquitted. The baby had fully recovered.

0032:  The 8-month old baby’s 4-year-old brother testified that he and his little brother had bumped heads several times and that he had lost his balance and dropped the baby on the floor.

The defendant, a 35-year-old female babysitter, was arrested and spent 240 days in jail awaiting trial.

In a four day bench trial, the judge dismissed a first-degree murder charge but convicted the babysitter of manslaughter, based on the premise that only an adult could have inflicted such injuries and the sitter was the only adult in the home at the time of the incident. He found that there was no evidence of her state of mind or that she knew her acts could cause great bodily harm.

The sitter consistently and repeatedly stated that she had not harmed the baby, that she loved him as she did her own children. At her sentencing hearing, she said, “I am innocent and I will never state otherwise.”

Relatives testified at the sentencing hearing that the defendant was an outstanding mother and babysitter, who wanted nothing more than to be a mother.

The defense attorney worked pro bono because he was convinced of his client’s innocence.

Three years later, an appeals court found that there was “no evidence of reckless conduct, no evidence that [the defendant] or anyone else recklessly struck or shook [the baby]. The state supreme court decision meant the defendant’s record would be cleared.

0033:  The 8-month old baby’s 4-year-old brother testified that he and his little brother had bumped heads several times and that he had lost his balance and dropped the baby on the floor.

The defendant, a 35-year-old female babysitter, was arrested and spent 240 days in jail awaiting trial.

In a four day bench trial, the judge dismissed a first-degree murder charge but convicted the babysitter of manslaughter, based on the premise that only an adult could have inflicted such injuries and the sitter was the only adult in the home at the time of the incident. He found that there was no evidence of her state of mind or that she knew her acts could cause great bodily harm.

The sitter consistently and repeatedly stated that she had not harmed the baby, that she loved him as she did her own children. At her sentencing hearing, she said, “I am innocent and I will never state otherwise.”

Relatives testified at the sentencing hearing that the defendant was an outstanding mother and babysitter, who wanted nothing more than to be a mother.

The defense attorney worked pro bono because he was convinced of his client’s innocence.

Three years later, an appeals court found that there was “no evidence of reckless conduct, no evidence that [the defendant] or anyone else recklessly struck or shook [the baby]. The state supreme court decision meant the defendant’s record would be cleared.

0034:  The defendant and his wife underwent years of costly in vitro fertilization in hopes of having children. They had been police officers for more than 14 years, both in the Air Force and as civilians. They eventually had twins, which weighed just 1.5 pounds at birth. The boy died and the girl spent three months in the hospital. She weighed just 4 pounds when she came home. The couple later adopted a son.

When the adopted son was nine months old, the father said he tripped while carrying the child and they both fell. An emergency room doctor turned the case over to the Child Protection Team. The team doctor determined the baby was a victim of shaken baby syndrome and both children were taken into custody.

A Sheriff’s Office investigation exonerated the parents, but the Department of Children and Families refused to change the father’s classification as a “verified child abuser.”

In an attempt to remedy this classification, the couple sued DCF. The agency had not held a hearing in many years to let anyone challenge their classification as a child abuser. The suit was unsuccessful and the father’s record was not cleared.

The child fully recovered.

0036:  The defendant’s wife gave birth to triplets, one of which died in the womb. The two other baby boys were delivered 10 weeks early because one of them was in severe distress with water on the brain. Both boys were bowlegged but otherwise seemed healthy. When they were five months old, a physician reported slight retinal hemorrhaging in one boy and ordered a CT scan. The scan showed rib fractures so they ordered a scan of the other baby and he had rib fractures as well. Medical reports conflicted with each other on details such as which eye had retinal hemorrhaging and how many fractures there were. The children were placed in state custody.

The father, 22, was arrested at work and interrogated. The police detective said he could tell the defendant was guilty by his body language, though when he was signing his supposed “confession” his head was shaking no. The detective told him that if he confessed everything would be OK and the children would not be taken away. He was pressed to implicate his wife. The detective was fired shortly after this case. Another investigator quit and worked with the defense attorney.

The father moved in with his mother but his uncle passed away and left two boys, aged 12 and 14. The mother took the orphans in but that meant her son could no longer stay with her because of his bail conditions. He had lost his job as a result of the arrest and ended up living in a tent.

A medical expert came pro bono from Colorado to testify for the defendant. He testified that the alleged fractures may be calcium deposits. He said the ophthalmologist, who retired to Hawaii shortly after this case began, used antiquated methods and may even have caused the injuries himself. The mother’s family had a history of bone deficiencies. No tests were done for possible alternate causes for the symptoms. Abuse was the only cause considered.

The judge allowed no information regarding the mother’s behavior, including hotline calls and the concerns of three doctors that she was abusing the children, even when requested by the jury during deliberations. Two jurors slept during the trial and the judge made jokes about it. The judge told the jury they had to finish deliberations by a certain time because of the judge’s schedule.

After conviction, he spent 30 days in jail and 2 years on probation with restrictions forbidding him to be with his sons or anyone else under 18 except in the presence of a third party custodian. The parents separated as a result of the case.

“I don’t think this will ever be over for any of us,” said his mother. “His sister had a new baby three weeks ago and it’s like he’s scared to touch him.”

0037:  Defense lawyers argued the father, 22, accidentally kicked the 10-week-old child off a bed while he was asleep and the baby fell 14 inches to the floor. Prosecutors maintained that “the baby sat for hours gasping for air before he died.” The jury deliberated just three hours before returning a guilty verdict. The capital murder trial was the first in the county in eight years.

The child’s mother, who was separated from the father at the time of the baby’s death, testified for the defense. The baby had been left with the father while the mother worked.

A medical examiner ruled that the baby died of shaken baby syndrome. His testimony was the only evidence indicating the death was other than accidental. A defense expert, the former coroner in the county and then a state forensic pathologist, testified that the child died from a skull fracture and subsequent oxygen deprivation from an accidental fall. She had resigned after attempting to add oversight and credibility to the medical examiner system. Coroners and prosecutors rose up against her and circulated a petition calling for her ouster.

The jury convicted and issued a death sentence. The case was appealed all the way to the state Supreme Court, where the conviction and death penalty were affirmed in 2006.

In 2008, the Innocence Project picked up the case, filing a complaint against the prosecution expert witness, saying that he had played a critical role in improperly sending an unknown number of people to death row or prison for life. He was found to have testified falsely under oath in two capital cases and the Innocence Project called him “an immediate danger to the public.” He claimed under oath to perform 1,500 autopsies per year, more than four per day. The National Association of Medical Examiners limits pathologists to fewer than 250 autopsies a year.

The prosecution expert, in response, said he worked 110 hours a week and claimed he was the victim of modern-day McCarthyism by a group whose real aim is to gut the death penalty.

0038:  The father, 20, tried to arouse the 1-month-old baby, a fraternal twin, who had gone white and limp. He said he did not shake his son hard but only tried to arouse him after finding him unresponsive. There were signs of earlier bruising and a twin sister had had five broken ribs and a broken leg in the past. The baby’s mother and grandmother were the primary caretakers. They never mentioned these prior injuries to authorities. The defense attorney said, “The evidence points away from the father and towards the mother.” The prosecutor said the mother was not on trial and any accusations against the mother were irrelevant.

The defendant spent nine months in jail awaiting trial. He was acquitted. The child suffered permanent brain damage.

0039:  The defendant, 17, became pregnant in high school. She finished high school in night classes and got a job. She didn’t like leaving her son so decided to take in other children. Her day care was unlicensed. She was paid $60/week per child. When informed that she needed a license, she cut back to two children.

A 10-month-old boy in her care went into a mysterious coma at lunchtime and died three days later. Two days afterward, the defendant’s own son was removed from the home by DCFS.

Both sides ignored many opportunities to seek a reduction of the charge to manslaughter.

There were no cuts or bruises. The time of injury was established by analyzing the boy’s stomach contents. The sitter admitted to police that she may have been too rough with the baby.

The jury rendered a “not guilty” verdict.

0040:  The defendant’s mother owned a day care. She left him in charge of five children while she ran some errands. Two of the children were his own sons.

He told police that at one point he threw a ball. The 19-month-old girl who was injured reportedly came running through the kitchen, collided with the ball, and fell full force into the corner of a wooden cabinet. She started to convulse, then went limp. He put her on a bed and called his mother for advice. When she returned home 30 minutes later, she called 911.

The child died two days later.

The state medical examiner ruled that the baby died of Shaken Baby Syndrome. The defendant pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to the maximum, 40 years. His mother, owner of the day care, was convicted of felony child neglect resulting in death and providing false information to medical personnel and state police. She was sentenced to up to 18 years. The state supreme court voted 3-2 to refuse to consider her appeal.

0041:  The defendant, 21, watched his girlfriend’s 2-month-old baby while she worked in the evening. The child was described by the mother as “real weak”, a baby who “didn’t develop like most children do.” She weighed only ten pounds, would frequently spit up her food, and was colicky.

When the mother returned home at about 11:00 p.m., she checked on the baby in her bassinet and she seemed to be fine. Once when the mother went to the bathroom in the night, she heard the baby make a grunting sound, which normally indicted the baby girl would wake soon.

In the morning, the child was found dead in her bassinet. The couple rushed to a nearby convenience store to call the police and rescue team. The police officer who responded made much of the fact that the defendant seemed nervous and distraught. The mother testified that the defendant had never been abusive

An autopsy revealed that many small blood vessels in the brain were bleeding and there was a slight hemorrhage in the right eye. There were no other internal or external injuries, no fractures.

The defendant’s stories changed under intense police questioning. He eventually “advised he became frustrated [with the baby’s crying] and started shaking her but not that hard.” He said, ”I apologize for what happened, for shaking her. I had no intention of hurting her. I feel like I must have used more force than I thought I did. I feel like I got frustrated and didn’t realize the force I was using.”

He was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 10 years and 5 months. After serving 21 months, the defendant won an appeal based on insufficient evidence of malice. The Court of Appeals ruled that second-degree murder cannot be proved without evidence of malice. Another issue was the following jury instruction, which was found to be erroneous: “The law simply requires the party having the burden of proof on a particular issue to satisfy the jury as to that issue by the greater weight of all the evidence in the case.” In truth, a criminal jury must be convinced of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and cannot convict on the greater weight of evidence.

The defendant was not retried.

0042:  The baby, born with severe spina bifida and paralyzed from the waist down, was abandoned soon after birth. She was adopted at one year of age by an unmarried fifth grade teacher whose father lived with her. Four weeks after the adoption was finalized, the then 3-year-old girl died. In addition to spina bifida, the baby had hydrocephalus, pneumonia, and e-coli. She had recently had a chicken pox shot and had run a fever ever since. She arrived at the emergency room with a lowered body temperature and labored breathing.

Based on “injuries to her head and body”, which did not include retinal hemorrhages, the medical examiner diagnosed shaken baby syndrome, either blunt force injury or acceleration/deceleration injury, he didn’t know which. He said the baby had a broken arm, determined to have occurred several weeks prior to death. The defense brought in four doctors who testified that the X-rays taken at the time of death showed no broken bones.

Both the adoptive mother and her father were arrested and held without bail on charges of felony child abuse. They were extradited to the state where the baby had been born.

The defense argued that the baby had died of pneumonia.

A jury deliberated three hours before acquitting the mother of three charges of child abuse. Two other charges had earlier been dismissed by the judge on the basis of insufficient evidence.

A civil suit followed, filed by the baby’s siblings and biological mother.

0043:  The babysitter, 30, had been caring for the baby for three months at her home when the 9-month-old child was taken to the hospital. He had a subdural hematoma and doctors said the cause was shaking.

The defendant plea bargained, and the baby’s family supported it. She had no prior criminal history or history of abuse. As part of the plea agreement, she was sentenced to two years felony probation and is required to take anger management classes.

The baby recovered fully.

0044:  On Tuesday, the baby’s parents fought over the amount of their income tax return, which was going to pay child support to the man’s first ex-wife. The father’s sister picked him up to take him job-hunting and the mother stayed at home with two daughters, a 3-year-old and a baby, 8 weeks.

When the father, 28, and his sister returned home, they could hear the baby crying from outside the house. The mother, 23, was inside “throwing things around and shouting profanities about how she was sick of [the baby] crying and exhausted from not getting enough sleep.” The baby was handed to the father’s sister, who calmed her down. But over the next few days, the baby’s health deteriorated. She began eating less and sleeping more. She would make a “half whine, half howl” sound, instead of crying. She ate only about 1/3 the normal amount. On Wednesday, she slept for 21 of 24 hours and did not wake to eat. By Thursday evening, she was gasping for air. She was finally taken to the hospital where she died. She had rib fractures.

The father, with the baby’s name tattooed on his neck, was sentenced to 50 years for failing to seek medical treatment. His wife, divorced by the time of the trial, agreed to a plea bargain. She pleaded guilty to a single charge of neglect of a dependent causing death and her sentence was capped at 40 years.

Neither parent admitted to causing the injuries, just to failing to seek timely medical attention. Both had criminal histories.

The father appealed the long sentence and lost. One judge, dissenting, said he would have revised the sentence to thirty-five years because “The State has never alleged, or attempted to demonstrate, that [the father] perpetrated [the baby’s] injuries or was specifically aware that his wife had done so. The State had not presented any medical testimony or even a medical record.

The mother appealed her advisory sentence of ten years.

0045:  When the mother came through the door of the father’s apartment, he was holding their 1-month-old baby, who was pale and limp. She asked why he didn’t call the paramedics and he said he was waiting for her. They took the baby to Children’s Hospital, where he was found to be slightly anemic. Doctors thought he might have an immature trachea.

That evening, the baby was not well. The mother want to take him to Urgent Care, but the father said no. The next morning the baby was very lethargic. The mother took him to the family pediatrician who thought he had the flu. That evening she ran an errand. She got a message to call the father immediately and when she did she heard the baby gasping for air. Paramedics came. At Children’s Hospital, test after test came back negative for illness.

The family became convinced the father, 22, had hurt the boy. He confessed after an hour and 45 minutes of high pressure police interrogation.

911 had been called at least two other times during the baby’s life. The baby survived, but is paralyzed. The defendant, who had parental rights, decided to keep the baby alive, which prosecutors insisted was to avoid a murder charge.

The father was charged with attempted second degree murder. He plea bargained to a charge of first degree assault. He was convicted and sentenced to 3-10 years, of which he served five. The baby’s mother and her family asked the court for a protection order upon his release.

0046:  After the 10-week-old baby became sick during church services, the parents took him to the hospital. The doctors said he probably had a stomach virus. Later that night, the baby stopped breathing. While waiting for an ambulance, the father, 23, gave him CPR. Doctors said he had been abused. He had bleeding on the brain and behind the eyes.

The father was charged with cruelty to a child and aggravated battery. The mother said he never hurt the child. The jury took less than an hour to acquit. The baby recovered.

“No one wants to see a child get hurt,” said the defense attorney. “But I think there is some overzealousness. It comes down to a defendant coming in to prove himself innocent. ... We had a child that had something going on in his head that no one understands. There are some cases I won’t take, but I believed in [the defendant] all along. He is a loving, caring father.”

0047:  The baby had first come to the sitter just days before he was transported by helicopter to the hospital. On that day, the sitter, 46, called 911 at 3:55 p.m. to report that while feeding the infant, his eyes rolled back and he stopped breathing. Doctors discovered brain swelling and subdural and retinal bleeding.

During the airlift to the hospital, a tube was improperly placed to the stomach instead of the lungs, leaving the child without oxygen for a long period. Two brain surgeons and a radiologist testified for the defense that the injuries occurred between 24 hours and five days before the baby went to the hospital.

The jury’s verdict was “guilty.” She served four and a half years in prison and about a year of probation.

0048:  At one week of age, the baby was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection that led to sepsis. He had birth defects. Because of breathing problems, he had spent almost half of his short life in the hospital. He was in a car accident a week prior to his collapse.

The single mother, 17, called 911 reporting that she had found the baby blue around the face and barely breathing. En route by ambulance to the hospital, a breathing tube was incorrectly placed in his stomach rather than his lungs. Little oxygen got to his brain for at least 30 minutes until he was transferred to a different hospital, where the error was noted and corrected.

A doctor ruled the death a homicide. The defendant’s original attorney was paid $10,000 and said with that he couldn’t hire any experts. The defendant said he told her that if she would plead guilty, she’d get probation. She had another son and wanted to go home to him so she took that advice.

Instead of probation, she was sentenced to 17 years. Five years into her sentence, a new medical examiner changed the autopsy results from “homicide” to “undetermined”, saying there was no evidence of shaking. A judge denied a new trial, saying the new evidence was insufficient to exonerate the defendant, and in any case she had pleaded guilty.

The state Court of Criminal Appeals threw out her conviction, saying it was “highly likely” a jury would have found her not guilty had she gotten effective legal counsel. A day later, they reversed that ruling after receiving a letter from the trial judge, but again threw out the conviction. She was released on bond at Christmas pending prosecutors’ decision to seek a retrial. Not until 8 months later did prosecutors announce they would not retry the case.

0049:  On December 4, the 11-month-old baby suffered a seizure and temporary coma while at a 30-year-old friend of the boy’s mother. The baby was found to have a massive subdural hematoma. The defense argued that a fall on November 18 had rebled, causing a seizure.

The baby’s parents and grandfather paid to have a billboard erected on a major highway, to “raise awareness of Shaken Baby Syndrome.” It was taken down when the defense asked the court to move the case to a different county because of the sign’s influence on potential jurors. That motion was denied. The prosecution did not allege the child had been shaken or was suffering from shaken baby syndrome. They said he had been slammed with tremendous force.

Several parents testified that the babysitter, 30, had cared lovingly for their children.

The baby survived with brain damage and paralysis, confined to a wheelchair. The defense medical expert testified that those disabilities could have been prevented had his condition been diagnosed soon after the November 18 fall.

The babysitter was acquitted of assault but convicted of child abuse. She was sentenced to 5 years. She gave birth to her third child in prison.

After the conviction, a group of friends who strongly believed her to be innocent mobilized 800 citizens, forming “a political constituency all its own in a county where a few hundred voters can sway an election.” They staged protests at the courthouse, paid for newspaper ads, and raised tens of thousands of dollars. Some local politicians associated themselves with the group and the baby’s parents accused them of exploiting a tragedy for their own gain. Prosecutors insisted that the supporters were misguided. “What people don’t realize is that good people sometimes do bad things,” said one.

The judge, who had co-authored a book on child abuse, rejected a request for a new trial, but the conviction was later overturned by the state Court of Special Appeals because defense lawyers had been forbidden from questioning the baby’s mother about the civil suit. She received the same sentence from a different judge. Facing another trial, she agreed to an Alford plea, not admitting guilt but conceding the state had enough evidence to find her guilty, and was released on probation without having to serve the remaining time on her original sentence. The restitution she would be required to remit to the family was capped at $13,000. A defense expert who was to testify at retrial had called to say he could not testify that the injuries were accidental.

The baby’s parents sued three doctors for malpractice because they failed to diagnose a subdural hematoma when the baby came in a month earlier after a reported fall. Doctors at the time had decided that a CT scan wasn’t necessary. The jury in the civil trial decided that the doctors should have performed a CT scan. “What harm could it have done to do a CT scan?” asked a juror. Doctors cited the seemingly (at the time) unnecessary cost, the risk of using anesthetic on an infant, and the risk of radiation exposure. The parents were awarded $5 million.

Medical reporters expressed concern that doctors would feel obligated to perform every conceivable test on infants who came in with seemingly minor injuries to avoid lawsuits and steep punitive damages.

The defendant’s supporters planned to continue meeting for prayer, saying the defendant “is a very spiritual person. She knows God knows the truth. She can sleep at night knowing she had nothing to do with the problems of this child.”

0050:  The adoptive mother, 34, told authorities she had been throwing the 10-week-old, 9.5 pound baby up in the air and shaking him playfully before he had a seizure. A bruise started emerging on his forehead and the soft spot on his head started bulging as his skull filled with blood. Doctors performed surgery to release the pressure in the baby’s skull and later testified at trial that the injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome.

A medical expert testified for the defense that the injury was a rebleed of an older injury suffered during childbirth that could have been triggered by a movement as minor as a sneeze or cough.

The defendant’s legal expenses were supplemented by contributions from members of her small Proebstel church, where she had taught Sunday school. Numerous supporters attended the trial, which resulted in a conviction. She remained free on bond for four additional years until a judge denied her motion for a new attorney and a new trial.

The baby recovered and was re-adopted.

0051:  On the morning in question, the mother’s boyfriend, 21, a soldier, took the 9-week-old infant with him from the mother’s home for a quick trip to his military housing to get a change of clothes, allowing the baby’s mother to sleep in. Soon after leaving, he called a friend of the mother and frantically said the baby was blue and not breathing. She was rushed to the hospital and revived after about 10 minutes.

Defense experts said it could have been an infection of the brain, thrombosis, or a form of hypoxia, among other possibilities. “This was not a normal, healthy baby to begin with,” said the defense attorney. The baby recovered but it is not known whether she will suffer long-term effects.

The mother and soldier were engaged at the time but did not marry.

The military tribunal acquitted. The defendant wept. Members of his unit clapped and cheered “hallelujah” as he wept. “I praise God that the truth has been shown,” he said outside the courtroom.

0052:  The parents took the lifeless 6-month-old baby to the emergency room about 1:30 a.m. Doctors worked on him until 7:00 a.m. then flew him by helicopter to a larger hospital, where he died.

The police said they arrested the father, 33, because he admitted that he was the only one in the house with the baby when he collapsed. He insisted he didn’t hurt the child.

The father was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life without parole.

He filed a habeas corpus petition in 2009. The court directed him to complete a P1 form by November 30, 2009. He did not return the form on time and the case was dismissed without prejudice.

0053:  A nurse was accused of not reporting fingertip-sized bruises on a 2-year-old baby’s back to the attending physician when she treated him on August 10. He was released back to his foster parents on August 14 but returned August 18 in an unresponsive state. He died and shaken baby syndrome was the diagnosis. The foster father was convicted and sentenced to 15 years.

The nurse was charged with two misdemeanor counts of failure to report child abuse. Charges were dismissed when the judge determined the mandated reporting law was too vague. One of the defense attorneys asked that the mandated reporter statutes be sent to the legislature for revision, as they could be interpreted to mean that every minor injury to a child must be reported!

The appeals court ruled in the nurse’s favor. Prosecutors appealed to the state Supreme Court, which ruled that the law was constitutional and the wording was not vague. The charges were reinstated, but eventually the state dismissed the case.

After the Supreme Court ruling, the baby’s biological father sued the medical center where the nurse worked, claiming negligence. He had previously reached a $100,000 settlement against the foster parents after he sued them. That settlement was not an admission of guilt, but an insurance company’s decision to settle.

0054:  An 18-month-old girl died of alleged shaken baby syndrome shortly after the mother returned home to relieve her babysitter. The mother is mildly mentally retarded with an IQ of 66. She was interrogated by police and signed a confession written out by a police officer. She claims detectives told her she could go home if she just signed the paper. The confession was later thrown out because the judge determined she could not knowingly and intelligently have waived her Miranda rights. The ruling was upheld on appeal, and the case was dismissed.

Police stated they would not investigate the baby sitter even though the baby’s older siblings and other children told a social worker that he had been swinging the baby around by her feet and bumped her head on the floor.

The mother was in jail for three months before charges were dropped and lost custody of her other children, which she is fighting to regain. She sued police over the false confession and the suit was settled out of court.

0055:  The baby’s father, 21, initially claimed the baby fell in the bathtub. He said after the baby stopped crying, he laid him on the bed and went to do dishes. He heard a thump and found the baby on the floor, stunned. He called 911 and did CPR. The baby had multiple bruises and cuts as well as retinal and subdural hemorrhaging. A prosecution medical expert said his brain had been torn away from its usual position.

Under intense police interrogation, he changed his story and admitted abusing the child. He was charged with felony murder.

The defense alleges that DTP immunizations played a part in the baby’s condition.

The defendant plea bargained to second degree murder and was sentenced to 25 - 50 years.

0056:  This baby was a twin. Police arrived at the home after receiving a report that he was not breathing. He was rushed to the hospital, where he died two days later.

The autopsy revealed older injuries, including older retinal bleeding and prior injuries to leg and ribs.

The prosecutor said the mother, 22, confessed. She was charged with aggravated manslaughter.”

Nearly seven years after the baby’s death, the mother tearfully admitted causing the injuries that led to the baby’s death and was sentenced to three years.

0057:  The father, 20, was alone with his daughter while the mother worked. He called 911, saying that the baby was unresponsive.

A judge appointed an attorney to be the 13-week-old’s guardian after ruling that the parents could face charges if the baby died and were therefore not capable of making an unbiased decision. A doctor testified that the infant had no chance of “meaningful recovery.” He said that she had both old and new injuries, indicating previous abuse.

The guardian recommended that the child be removed from life support. The judge, who had ruled on several right-to-die cases that shaped the way such issues were decided in state courts, signed the order.

The parents were allowed to be with the child when she died.

The father accepted a plea bargain reducing the charge to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 8 years.

0058:  The father, 23, was a Marine lance corporal at the time of his son’s death.

The child was born nine weeks premature, with breathing and heart problems. He spent his first month of life in intensive care. The father reported he had put the 3-month-old in the crib earlier one evening and later found him not breathing. An autopsy showed brain injuries, brain swelling, and retinal bleeding. There were no bone fractures, neck injuries, or bruising. Several witnesses described the defendant as a gentle and caring father and a man not easily frustrated or angered.

In a videotaped interrogation, he acknowledged that he shook the baby, but when he demonstrated for the camera, it was a jostling motion. The defense attorney criticized the interrogation, saying police took advantage of a grief-stricken father to wring an incriminating admission.

A defense expert from the VA Medical Center said the injuries were caused by a previous injury that occurred around the time of birth.

After nearly three days of deliberations, he jury acquitted the defendant of murder and were 10-2 in favor of acquittal on all charges but failed to reach a verdict on the charges of felony child abuse and involuntary manslaughter. They said they had doubts all the way around.

The remaining charges were dropped. The district attorney said, “We just did not feel we could succeed or do any better than we did the first time around.” Jurors had said the medical testimony presented by the prosecution about how the baby died were not convincing.

0059:  The baby had a very difficult birth. Brain damage was diagnosed at birth, as well as cerebral palsy. According to family and friends, the mother‚s boyfriend, 22, who took care of the child while the mother worked, loved the baby and was exceptionally gentle and caring with him. The day he was taken to the hospital, the child was ill in the morning, and the caregiver decided to keep him home from pre-school. As the day progressed, he appeared worse and when the mother returned home from work they decided to take the child to the ER. He was hospitalized immediately and diagnosed with a subdural hematoma. He died 4 days later.

During an interview with the police, the caregiver told them the child had been fussy while trying to get him dressed and the caregiver shook him gently by the shoulders in an effort to get him to listen. He described it as a gentle shaking, to get the child's attention. He was immediately arrested and charged with murder.

Doctors volunteered their opinions to the defense at no charge. The child was 3 1/2 years old and his age was also questionable as far as SBS being relevant. The attorney firmly believed he could establish reasonable doubt. He had successfully defended another case and was convinced that shaken baby syndrome is a highly overused and often incorrect diagnosis. Experts volunteered to testify for the defendant because they had reviewed the evidence and concluded he was innocent.

The mother‚s family believed that the boyfriend had killed the child and put a great deal of pressure on her to end the relationship. She initially supported him, but eventually moved to Alaska to “start life over and forget the pain.”

Without consulting his attorney, the defendant wrote two heartfelt letters to the baby‚s family, full or remorse and apologies for his self-perceived “hurting” of the baby. He had been “eating himself up with pain inside his heart from losing this child he loved so much, plus feeling responsible in some way because it happened on his watch‚” according to his mother.

The child's family forwarded the letter to the District Attorney. Due to a parental discretion statute in his state, the defense attorney said that even were he acquitted on the murder charge, he would be convicted of assault.

Fearing a murder conviction by a jury, he pleaded guilty to a manslaughter charge. He was sentenced to 7 years, of which he will serve 4 years and 9 months, followed by parole. His mother said he was eating himself up with guilt, not because he had hurt the baby but because he had been unable to save him. Doing time was in his mind perhaps a “penance” for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

0060:  The foster mother’s boyfriend, 28, called paramedics at 9:30 a.m. reporting that a 3-month-old girl was not breathing. He was watching the child for about an hour. Firefighters arrived to find the child in full cardiac arrest. The baby died without regaining consciousness. Doctors later determined she had a fractured skull, broken ribs, and bruises. Most of the broken ribs appeared to be old injuries, but the skull fracture seemed fresh.

The baby’s foster mother, half-sister of the biological mother, was not considered a suspect. Her boyfriend was accused of shaking the child.

A neighbor said she never heard any arguments or noticed any tension. “They’re really calm, she said. They don’t yell or scream.”

At trial, a defense medical expert said some of the injuries were old and others were likely inflicted by paramedics who handled the fragile baby during rescue attempts.

A jury convicted and the man was sentenced to 25 years to life. Numerous relatives and friends insisted he is not violent. He had been around babies his whole life and had always treated them with kindness and care. “He loved her like his own daughter,” his mother said. Supporters thought perhaps the baby had been harmed while with a previous foster family and said police accused the defendant for no reason other than he was the person caring for the child when she fell ill.

0061:  The father, 22, was caring for his 9-month old twins. He called 911 to report his daughter was not breathing.

The emergency room doctor initially believed the child died as a result of a heart attack caused by a severe asthma attack. The medical examiner found hemorrhaging in the brain and eyes and concluded she had been shaken violently.

Nine doctors presented conflicting testimony. Defense experts said the baby was asthmatic, had pneumonia in her lungs and signs of sepsis.

Under interrogation the night his daughter died, the father told detectives may have shaken the infant. His trial resulted in a murder conviction. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

0062:  The mother began work at K-Mart and left her son alone for the first time with her boyfriend, 32. He allegedly confessed to police that he shook the 14-month-old baby and threw her down on an air mattress because she wouldn’t stop crying. The baby immediately started to have seizures and within a short time stopped breathing.

The defendant took the child to the hospital at 10:44 p.m. Doctors almost immediately diagnosed shaken baby syndrome, but the mother asked that they keep the baby on life support in order to donate his organs. The coroner said this wasn’t an option because the death had been ruled a homicide.

The defendant was convicted and sentenced to 13.5 years.

0063:  A mother, 22, was convicted of second degree murder in the death of her 45-day-old son. The baby had broken ribs, bruises to his body and face, and retinal bleeding, according to doctors. He had slipped into unconsciousness while in his mother’s care.

The judge tossed out a conviction for second degree murder saying the defense attorney should have presented an expert witness. The defendant then sued her defense attorney, who she had paid $20,500, for legal malpractice.

An attorney who defends legal malpractice cases says the case is extremely rare. Few judges throw out convictions under these circumstances and few people sue criminal attorneys because they rarely have money to sue.

0064:  The 2-month-old boy stopped breathing in his father’s arms on a Monday. The father administered CPR while waiting for emergency workers. The baby began breathing again, but his eyes were deviated and he was arching his back.

The baby had subdural and subarachnoid hemorrhages, as well as retinal hemorrhages. Shaken baby syndrome was the diagnosis. The baby was declared clinically dead six days later.

The baby had been treated for reflux. On the Saturday prior to his collapse, he had been diagnosed with a viral infection. Family members testified that on the two days prior to his collapse, he had cold symptoms but was otherwise normal.

The baby’s parents were questioned by police. The mother was advised of her Miranda rights. She first denied hurting her baby. She said, “If I did it, I don’t remember doing it.” Investigators asked her to take a polygraph, which they said indicated a 99% chance of deception. Eventually, she admitted that she had been frustrated with her children the Friday before. She said she shook her son’s swing violently, with him in it. After her statement was typed up, she made corrections and signed every page.

Prior to the polygraph, the police officer held a photo of the baby close to her face and said, “Mommy, help me.” He asked her if she believed in God, and said “Can you look God in the eyes ... at judgment day ... and tell him that [you] didn’t have anything to do with this?”

At the trial, three medical experts testified that the combination of symptoms combined with the complete absence of external trauma could only be consistent with shaken baby syndrome. The baby had collapsed and gone to the hospital on a Monday. The alleged shaking incident was on a Friday. All three experts testified that it would be normal for symptoms to appear around 72 hours after the injury.

At a bench trial, she was convicted. An appeal was unsuccessful.

0065:  Investigators said the stepfather, 20, told them that after he fed the baby at about 10:00 a.m. on a Friday, the boy started crying and he shook him four or five times. He was read his Miranda rights. The affidavit says: “The defendant stated that he shook the victim because he was irritated and tired.” He also stated that when he shook the victim his head “went back and forth.” The defendant’s family, Christians, said they were proud of him for telling the truth.

Late Saturday afternoon, the stepfather noticed the boy’s lip was blue and his body was limp. A neighbor called 911. The child did not arrive at the hospital until 5:27 p.m. He died at 1:15 p.m. Sunday.

The boy was kept on life support so his organs could be donated.

The stepfather was charged with first degree murder and aggravated child abuse.

In court, the defendant demonstrated five quick shakes. The defense attorney argued that the defendant did not intentionally kill the child and should not be convicted of murder. In his testimony, he said, “I never meant to hurt him. I loved him with all my heart.” The prosecutor said he should have known his actions would cause the baby’s death. He was convicted of aggravated child abuse. Rather than murder, the jury convicted him of manslaughter. A murder conviction would have resulted in a mandatory life sentence. Jurors said they were convinced that the defendant loved the boy and did not realize what he had done until after he had done it, which is why first-degree murder seemed too harsh.

The defense attorney called it a verdict of compassion. The maximum sentence, is 45 years rather than life. 72 letters were written on behalf of the defendant, all of which recalled a kind, loving and God-fearing young man who stepped up to the plate when life dealt him adult responsibilities while still a child.

The sentence imposed was 15 years for manslaughter and 20 years for aggravated child abuse, to be served concurrently.

0066:  The father, a 29-year-old bartender who cared for his child during the day, was the only person at home when his 3-month-old baby began foaming at the mouth and had a seizure while in his swing, which was malfunctioning. He called the baby’s mother who told him to call 911. He administered CPR when the baby stopped breathing. Emergency workers restored his breathing, and he survived with no apparent long-term injuries.

The baby had an acute subdural hematoma, which doctors determined was fresh and caused by non-accidental head trauma, consistent with shaken baby syndrome.

Both he and the baby’s mother, his girlfriend, failed polygraph exams. The mother believed in his innocence but eventually testified against him. During the two-year wait for trial he stopped paying child support. The defense attorney said it was because he was hospitalized and had lost his job, then needed to pay for an expert to testify at the trial. The baby’s mother did not come to court to hear the verdict read.

The defense expert said that had the alleged shaking occurred, the baby would have had a neck injury. He believed the baby’s injuries began with a difficult birth. A prosecution expert said he’d examined “dozens and dozens” of acute subdural hematomas and had never seen one with a neck injury. The prosecutor called the defense opinion “similar to the one by the people who denied the earth was round.” He showed the jury a map dotted with marks to show all the states where the expert had testified, usually for $10,000, emphasizing that his opinions were in the minority. The trial ended in a conviction.

At sentencing, the judge said both he and the jurors believed the father caused the injuries. The defendant’s mother, a church elder, his new girlfriend’s father and a friend urged leniency and called him a good man who loved the baby. “The court is satisfied that [the defendant] did this and he has not shown any remorse,” the judge said as he imposed a sentence of 15 years, more than double the minimum time possible. He chose 15 years, he said, because at that time the baby would be 18 and able to defend himself.

0067:  This was one of the first cases where a defense of DPT vaccination succeeded. The baby, who was delivered by C-section and had respiratory problems at birth, had reacted badly to his first hepatitis B and first DTP vaccinations. The parents remembered him crying inconsolably “day and night,” arching his back, projectile vomiting, having little appetite, sleeping most of the time and flushing hot and cold. Symptoms were so sever that he was hospitalized twice. The diagnosis was “colic” and “milk intolerance.” His head ballooned from 35.5 cm to 46.5 cm. The pediatrician was concerned, as were relatives.

Four hours after his second DTP shot, the 5-month-old baby “started screaming like he had never screamed before”, rolled back his eyes, went stiff, then limp, then started gurgling. He went to the the hospital, where the convulsion was noted as “most likely” an adverse reaction to DTP. He continued to have uncontrollable seizures. Full skeletal X-rays showed no other signs of trauma. Subdural hemorrhage and retinal hemorrhage were discovered, however. The baby was taken from his parents and the father, 33, was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

A doctor testifying for the defense testified that the batch of DTP from which the baby’s shot came caused seizures in 17 other children as well.

The father, a police officer who was suspended after his indictment, had a perfect history. There was no evidence that he was other than a model father.

The jury acquitted the father. The child survived but is developmentally disabled.

0068:  The baby’s mother was taking a shower when her 21-year-old boyfriend came to tell her the child was unresponsive. Emergency medical technicians called to the home said the child was not breathing. Doctors diagnosed shaking by a strong person and the medical examiner said her body appeared normal and well-nourished otherwise. The defendant had no history of violence.

Time after time, the trial was postponed, by the prosecutor who wasn’t prepared for the Frye hearing and then by the public defender, who said he needed more time to consult with an expert witness and review the report. Finally the judge said, “I don’t want this to get dragged out another year. We need to get this matter resolved.” Seven months later, the defendant pleaded guilty to a reduced charge.

“It would have been difficult getting a conviction on first-degree murder, though not impossible,” said the prosecutor. “Because of that, I didn’t think we should take a risk and walk away with nothing.

Almost 75 people packed the courtroom for the sentencing hearing. The baby’s family members were disappointed that the judge sentenced him to 7 years rather than the 14 years they’d hoped for. With credit for the year and five months he’d spent in jail and time off for good behavior, he could serve less than four more years.

The baby’s family wanted the sentence to act as a deterrent for the future. “In a way,” said the paternal grandfather, “this is now a template to getting away with murder.” The defendant turned down a chance to speak before the sentence was issued. The prosecutor disagreed with the defense argument that a plea agreement indicated remorse. The judge said nothing done in the courtroom could bring the baby back to life. “She was just a young child and had her whole life ahead of her.”

0069:  The babysitter, 26, said the 7-month-old baby girl began to vomit violently and turn blue. She called the mother and told her she had shaken the child in panic after she vomited. At trial, she testified that she shook the child because she was afraid the baby would die in front of her as her own mother had a decade before.

The baby had been vomiting frequently in the two weeks before her collapse. The sitter said she panicked after the baby vomited cereal and appeared to choke. “I noticed that the laugh lines around her mouth were blue and that her face was white or gray and her lips were blue. I picked her up and I put her face in my face and I kept saying her name, telling her to breathe, and I shook her and I turned her upside down and I hit her back and it wasn’t working and I shook her harder,” she sobbed.

When asked why she did not call 911, she said, “I had visions of another person. Eleven years ago, my mother stopped breathing on me. I did the responsible thing. I called the ambulance and when I got off the phone, my mother was dead. I could not leave the baby in that chair. I had to do something...I shook her. All I wanted her to do was breathe.” When the baby gasped, she thought the crisis was over and called the parents.

A nurse testified that the babysitter had told her “that on the last shaking episode she shook her so bad she thought she broke her neck.”

In a bench trial, the sitter was acquitted of manslaughter. The trial was attended by nearly 30 friends and supporters, who hugged and cheered when the verdict was announced.

0070:  The defendant, a 43-year-old former nurse, ran a licensed day-care facility in her home. She found a 4-month-old baby girl in a crib and called 911. The baby later died in the hospital.

The defense attorney argued that the baby suffered a rare and extreme allergic reaction to routine vaccines she received earlier that day.

Another child, a 3-month-old boy, had died after being in the sitter’s care six years earlier. The cause was listed as SIDS. That baby’s father questioned that diagnosis in light of the allegations.

The babysitter was convicted of felony injury to a child and sentenced to eight years. An appeal failed.

Ten years later, the cause of death was changed from “homicide” to “undetermined” after doubt was cast on the expertise of the doctor who performed the autopsy. In two other cases, mothers accused of causing their baby’s deaths as a result of botched autopsies had been cleared. Despite this, a judge ruled against the autopsy claim of the babysitter, saying that she did “not unquestionably establish her innocence” and that the new evidence was not enough to overcome other medical testimony presented at trial.

The defense attorney said he planned to pursue the case with the Court of Criminal Appeals.

0071:  The father, 26, told police his 5-week-old was sleeping in her swing. He called 911 after he noticed she wasn’t breathing when he took her to the bedroom. He and his common-law wife tried to resuscitate the baby. She was taken to Children’s Hospital where she died.

The man’s 11-month-old daughter had died two years earlier. That death was attributed to SIDS.

The defendant was convicted of reckless child abuse and sentenced to 32 years.

0072:  The child was born prematurely and had medical conditions. There were no bruises on her. She weighed 14 pounds and was 8 months old at the time of the incident.

There was no telephone in the apartment, but a grandmother lived across the street. The father didn’t summon help until after the mother returned home. His story about why he delayed contacting rescue workers changed in his videotaped statement to police.

The trial lasted a month and resulted in a conviction. “They said it came down to the eyes,” said the prosecutor after speaking with jurors about their verdict.

The verdict was appealed but the judgment was affirmed.

0073:  In a morning conversation with the mother on a Monday, the baby sitter said the 5-month-old girl had been crying and seemed to be having a “tough time.” She seemed fine to caretakers afterward. The next day the sitter also said she cried all day and needed to be held or rocked to sleep. The third day the sitter said she ate less and slept more. On Thursday, the mother came to pick up the baby. She appeared to be sleeping, but the mother noticed her left arm and left leg began to jerk spontaneously. The sitter suggested she might be dreaming. Later, the sitter told police the baby was “wide awake and perky” that morning and was normal during the day.

The baby did not regain consciousness. The mother assumed she was sleeping during the next three hours but became concerned because she could not wake her. She called the doctor, then took the baby to a hospital, where retinal hemorrhages and a large subdural hematoma were found. There was also a bruise on the baby’s ear lobe that the doctor said was less than 24 hours old. He said the child would have been “knocked out” immediately after the trauma. The baby underwent brain surgery to relieve the pressure on her brain.

One doctor claimed that the force on the baby’s brain would have been between 9.5 and 350 Gs. Fighter pilots can black out with 6-7 Gs.

The baby survived but was mildly paralyzed on one side of her body, blinded in one eye, and struggles with learning disabilities.

The babysitter was convicted of child abuse. Numerous letters were submitted to the court testifying to her abilities as a child care provider.

Her conviction was upheld on appeal.

0074:  An 8-month-old boy the sitter was caring for in her home was taken to the hospital with severe head injuries. Doctors diagnosed shaken baby syndrome. Prosecutors said she admitted shaking the baby. In a statement, she said she had playfully tossed him up in the air and once as he was coming back down she wasn’t able to get a good gram and the baby fell, hitting his head on the coffee table, and then the floor. After doctors said the baby had been shaken, investigators returned to talk with her and she said she probably shook him.

She pleaded guilty to intentional child abuse in a plea bargain. At sentencing, the judge expressed doubts about whether there was any proof she had shaken the baby. He sentenced her to 18 months probation.

The prosecution appealed and the state Court of Appeals increased her sentence to 2-5 years in prison, noting the following considerations that required a longer sentence:
(1) The nature and circumstances of the offense.
(2) The history and characteristics of the defendant.
(3) The need for the sentence imposed.
(a) To afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct.
(b) To protect the public from further crimes of the defendant.
(c) To reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law, and to provide just punishment for the offense; and,
(d) To provide the defendant with needed educational or vocational training, medical care, or other correctional treatment in the most effective manner; and
(4) Any other matters appearing in the record which the appellate court deems pertinent.

The baby lived but is disabled.

0075:  A father was charged with felony murder in the death of his 7-month-old daughter, a twin. Prosecutors contacted the parents about a plea agreement, saying it was motivated by the uncertainty of a conviction if the matter went to trial. The defense had an expert who would have testified that the injuries were not caused by shaking.

The defense attorney asked that all but two of the autopsy photos be barred from evidence because they were not relevant and were too graphic. The request was denied. The judge said, “gruesome crimes result in gruesome photographs.” He also asked that hearsay evidence in some of the medical reports not be presented to jurors. His request to submit written questionnaires during jury selection was denied.

The father insisted he was innocent, but accepted the plea bargain because he was afraid he might not get a fair trial because of his ethnicity, the fact that he did not speak English, and the fact that he was an illegal immigrant. A conviction might result in a life sentence. Under the plea deal, he pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to 4 years and 9 months.

“I’m not OK with it but I’ve got to accept that,” said the baby’s mother.

0076:  The baby had a skull fracture and an intracranial bleed. Her father, 29, said he was outside working on his car when he heard a loud thump. He ran inside and saw his daughter lying on the floor seizing and not breathing. The baby’s mother said the child fell off a bed.

The baby arrived at the hospital in critical condition with an intracranial bleed, skull fracture and bruising on the left side of her forehead. she had emergency surgery to remove a blood clot. There was evidence of an old injury that may have occurred up to 3 months earlier. Doctors said it was diagnostic of chronic abuse.

The father, who had a criminal history, was charged with abuse and abandonment as well as intimidation of a witness. The baby was put in foster care. The mother, a minor, was charged with abuse and abandonment as well and agreed to a plea bargain. She had reported earlier that her baby had bruises after an unsupervised visit with the father.

The father was released on $50,000 bond. All contact between father and mother was banned, but the mother complained that he continued to contact him. He denied doing so but the judge ordered an ankle bracelet and that he remain on house arrest. Hours after that hearing, he was arrested and charged with burglary. He insisted the burglary was a misunderstanding.

0077:  The mother’s boyfriend, 19, did not admit to shaking the baby until a second police interview. Earlier, he said he fed the baby, then gave him a bath where he hit his head but did not cry. He put the baby to bed. When the mother came home and checked on her son, she saw that his eyes were rolled back in his head. She called an ambulance. The baby died two days later.

The mother’s boyfriend, who had no criminal record, was charged with neglect. Bond was set at $90,000.

A little over a year from the date of the incident, the defendant plea bargained. He was sentenced to 30 years and immediately asked for an appeal. The judge said he waived his right to appeal when he entered the plea agreement.

0078:  The father called police to report that his 6-week-old son had stopped breathing. Doctors found severe traumatic brain injuries. The police initiated an investigation.

The parents agreed to meet with investigators. They were not under arrest so were not read their Miranda rights. The father, in a videotaped interrogation, admitted that three days prior to the baby’s collapse, he had shaken him to stop him from crying. During the days between the incident and the baby’s hospitalization, he said, the baby appeared very disturbed. The baby died four days after he went to the hospital after life support systems were disconnected.

Three prosecution experts testified. The primary treating physician said the baby had been shaken within a week prior to hospitalization.

The jury found him not guilty of second degree murder but guilty of first degree manslaughter. He was sentenced to 41 months.

An appeal was unsuccessful. The appeals court said the parents had voluntarily agreed to talk to police. He was advised that he was not in custody or under arrest and he was free to leave at any time. Therefore, it was not a requirement that he be informed of his Miranda rights.

The defendant appealed to the state Supreme Court, arguing that the child’s death was due to the life support systems being disconnected. The court considered the legal definition of “death.”

0079:  The father, 18, picked up his 5-week-old son from his former girlfriend’s house on Wednesday for a weekend visit. When his grandmother left to go shopping on Sunday, father and son were both sleeping, with the baby in the car seat. They were in the same position when she returned, she told officers.

When the baby’s mother came to pick him up, he was still in the car seat. She noticed he was not breathing and took him to the hospital, where he died an hour later. A coroner diagnosed shaken baby syndrome after the autopsy.

A friend said of the defendant: “It just has to be a mistake someone made. He’s not a violent person. I don’t even think I ever heard him raise his voice.” Other friends described him as a loving father who was proud of his son.

The baby’s mother said he had borderline jaundice and swelling on one side of his head when he was born. Before his birth, he also had conjunctivitis.

The father was arrested and charged with capital murder. Nearly six years later, charges were dropped.

0080:  On October 6, the 6-week-old baby began to cry inconsolably. The next day, he was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with colic. The baby continued vomiting. October 10, the baby fell over onto a carpeted floor from a “bouncy chair.” October 11, the baby was taken to the doctor for a scheduled exam. He was still vomiting. The doctor recommended a new formula. That night, said the mother, the baby’s father, 19, was furious with her.

October 12, the baby began to have seizures. they took the baby to the pediatrician, who summoned an ambulance. The child was found to have bilateral subdural hematomas, retinal bleeding, and broken ribs.

Confronted by the baby’s mother in the hospital room, the father said, “That night you took a shower, I shook the baby.” That had been October 10, two days before the seizures began.

He was convicted of intentionally and knowingly causing bodily injury to a child and sentenced to ten years and $10,000 fine. On appeal, he did not argue that he was innocent, but rather raised the issue of whether his conduct was intentional and knowing. He maintained he was criminally negligent, or at most reckless. He also argued that his counsel at trial had been ineffective. The appeals court disagreed.

0081:  The official cause of death for an 11-week-old girl was “pneumonia due to cerebral injuries due to child abuse.” The child had been living at a children’s center since she was born, after a doctor reported brain and eye injuries and bruises on the buttocks and behind the ear, injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome.

The father was arrested and charged with aggravated battery and medical neglect.

Charges against the parents were dropped for lack of evidence. Charges against the center for medical neglect were considered.

0082:  On Thursday, the baby’s teenage mother had called the defendant and his wife, crying and saying she had just backhanded the baby across the face and needed a break from her children, the baby and an 18-month-old sister. The defendant offered to watch the children over the long Easter weekend.

On Easter Sunday, they took the 6-month-old boy to the hospital, saying he had suffered a seizure after they ate at a restaurant some distance from their home. As they were driving home, he began screaming, vomiting and convulsing. “His eyes were rolling and his head was thrashing around violently. Both arms were extended and his palms were faced out with his fingers completely extended and rigid. He then turned from red to purple to white, vomited and then turned bluish and stopped breathing.”

They arrived at the hospital two hours and 20 minutes after they left the restaurant. Two cranial bleeds were found, one old and one recent, as well as retinal hemorrhaging.

Both the defendant, 35, and his wife, 25, were accused of killing the baby. The children’s mother, a high school dropout, had planned to allow the couple to adopt her children. They were unable to have children but desperately wanted to be parents.

Three days after the baby’s death, police broke into their home and found the couple dead in the garage of carbon monoxide poisoning. A suicide note said, “No one here would ever hurt Sara’s kids. Please make sure our dogs are taken care of.”

The boy’s sister was removed from the mother and put into foster care.

0084:  A Nome, Alaska-based trooper saved the life of an infant when the child stopped breathing during a flight home to Saint Lawrence Island. The baby girl had spent five months hospitalized in Anchorage after open heart surgery at the age of 2 months. She was connected to an oxygen tank on board the airplane.

About ten minutes into the flight, the father became alarmed. “She just stopped breathing and didn’t have any heartbeat,” he said. “I just grabbed her and tried to wake her up.”

A trooper sitting in front of the father said, “I just turned around and noticed he was shaking and yelling at the baby.” The trooper began CPR. After two to four minutes, the baby gasped for air and her eyes popped open. “She revived and opened her eyes and gave me a big smile which I don’t want to forget,” the grateful father said. “I want to thank that trooper.”

The pilot returned to Nome and the baby was flown back to Anchorage. “She’s a tough little girl,” said the trooper.

Twenty years later, she was still living in her village.

0085:  An 18-year-old mother was charged with murder after her 3-month-old son died and doctors determined the cause to be Shaken Baby Syndrome. His injuries included bilateral hematomas, retinal hemorrhaging and acute bleeding around the brain. His twin sister was placed with relatives although the father was not considered a suspect.

Her bond was set at $500,000 prior to the baby’s death, then increased to $2.5 million. She had no criminal history or prior record with CPS.

More than 35 relatives attended a hearing in which a judge granted her permission to attend the funeral and burial services for her son, accompanied by relatives, not the police. The prosecutors were shocked. “It seems inconceivable to me,” said one. “She shook him with enough force to do brain damage and kill him.” The relatives promised to drive her from jail directly to the funeral with no stops, but prosecutors wanted her relatives to pay for an escort of sheriff’s deputies. That was not possible, and the mother spent the day behind bars.

She spent 127 days in county jail before pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter. She admitted she had been tired and frustrated, but denied intentionally hurting her son. She was prohibited from seeing the baby’s twin sister without a court order. The defense attorney said the child had a history of choking and the shaking was not violent.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, she was sentenced to two months of home confinement and four years of probation. She agreed to pay a $500 fine and court costs and to undergo counseling. “Based on the evidence, this was the appropriate disposition,” said an attorney for the State.

0086:  The 3-month-old baby was suffering from a virus, but otherwise seemed in good health. The parents picked her up from the paternal grandmother’s house at 5:00 p.m. and noticed nothing unusual about her behavior. At 6:00 p.m., the mother left her alone with the father and went to buy food. The father was alone with the baby for 30-45 minutes. When the mother returned, the baby girl was asleep, though her usual bedtime was at least an hour and a half later.

The parents were awakened the next morning by a strange, raspy cry. The baby would not open her eyes and could not hold up her head. She was taken to the hospital.

The parents initially denied any knowledge of what might have occurred. Eventually, the father said that while he was holding the girl and giving her a bottle, he fell asleep. She started to slip to the ground. He awoke and caught her.

Two months later, while the girl was being treated for spinal meningitis, she was diagnosed with von Willebrand’s disease. She also had brain atrophy.

The father was charged with first degree assault. A motion for a Frye hearing was denied. At a bench trial, the defense expert argued that very little force would be needed to cause injuries to a child with the girl’s condition.

The judge convicted and the case was appealed all the way to the state Supreme Court, which upheld the conviction.

0087:  The mother’s boyfriend was watching her 3-year-old child when, he said, the little girl fell down a flight of stairs with a Rottweiler dog while wearing her big “princess” shoes. He said she seemed conscious after the fall but fell asleep on the couch so he took her upstairs to bed. He said he called the child’s uncle to take her to the hospital but couldn’t get through. Some time later, he checked on her and found her stiff and frothing at the mouth. She died two days later.

Doctors said she had numerous obvious impacts to her head as well as 57 bruises, a broken left arm and 12 compressed vertebrae. He was charged with manslaughter.

Two years after this incident, he was found guilty of an unrelated assault. During a verbal disagreement with another man in a car, he inflicted a fractured jaw that had to be wired shut for six weeks, a fractured cheekbone, eye muscle damage and a broken nose.

At the bench trial, a prosecution witness, an expert in child neglect and pediatric injury interpretation, said, “Simple falls down stairs don’t cause this many injuries to so many parts of the body.” He told the court that the bruises were likely caused by an object like a coffee cup, and opined that the defendant deliberately slammed the child’s head into a bedroom wall while holding her horizontally by the seat of her pants. The mother testified that he had never raised his voice to the child.

During cross-examination, the defense attorney elicited from this expert an admission that the little girl did not have a crushed skull as stated in previous testimony.

The trial lasted almost three weeks, in part because of the busy schedule of a prosecution expert witness. About 50 people including relatives, reporters and many police, were in court to hear the verdict, delivered three months after the conclusion of the trial. The announcement of a “not guilty” verdict brought loud sobs and expressions of disbelief from the baby’s family and supporters, who assailed the defendant with angry shouts, curses and taunts when he left the courtroom. “You (effing) piece of shit. You bastard,” shouted someone. “You wait.” The family said that while a guilty verdict would not have brought the baby back, it would have provided comfort for those who believed the defendant killed the child. “We are very disappointed that he has the opportunity to hurt someone else,” said one relative. “We do believe that is going to happen...”

“It’s been a really long four and a half years. It seems like every time we get our hopes up for something to happen, nothing happens.”

Wrote the judge in a 62-page decision, “In my opinion the accused’s testimony cannot be rejected,” the judge wrote. “His testimony raises a reasonable doubt...”

“It is not the role of a trial judge to determine what happened.” he said, adding that it was very much his job to determine if the prosecution had proven its case and it simply had not. “It is not reasonable to conclude that the accused drove her head into a wall,” he said.

0088:  The defendant, a grandmotherly 66, had been a daycare provider for nearly 20 years, watching children in her spacious ranch home. Five years prior to this incident, a child she was watching had been diagnosed with Shaken Baby Syndrome. Her daycare license was temporarily revoked, but it was reinstated when doctors could not determine when that baby was hurt and by whom.

One day, a 9-month-old girl was dropped off shortly before 8:00 in the morning. Two hours later, after an alleged fall from a standing position onto a carpeted floor, she had a seizure and was rushed to the hospital, comatose. She had retinal and subdural bleeding. Emergency doctors immediately suspected Shaken Baby Syndrome and focused on the babysitter. The severity of the child’s condition, they said, meant the injury had occurred mere moments before she lost consciousness. Her decline would have been dramatic and fast. The parents were not investigated.

The child survived but with devastating injuries. “She can’t see,” the prosecutor told the jury. “There’s a question about whether or not she can hear. She will never walk. She will never talk.” Said the director of a Child Protection Center in another state, the only way another child could create enough force to cause these injuries would be by throwing the baby out of a second- or third-story window.

Three months after the incident, the babysitter was arrested and charged with child abuse. She relinquished her child care license.

At the trial, the prosecutor was three months pregnant and wearing maternity clothes. The prosecution’s expert medical witnesses focused on the extent of injuries to the child. The defendant did not testify or call expert witnesses. The jury found her guilty.

At her sentencing, she pleaded for leniency. “If I could make that child well by taking my own life, I would,” she said. The judge ordered her to spend 18 years in prison, effectively a life sentence. The family then sued her to help defray the costs of the girl’s medical care.

After a year in prison, the 67-year-old convicted sitter and her husband came up with a plan to get her out of prison. She approached a fellow inmate and offered to pay her $10,000 if she would force the baby’s mother by any means to write a suicide note saying she had killed the girl. A hit man would then kill the mother and the handicapped child. The fellow inmate reported the conversation to authorities, who wired her during the next conversation and began collecting evidence to foil the plot.

After a down payment was given to an undercover detective posing as a hit man, investigators arrested the husband told the child’s mother of the plot. “I started laughing,” she said. “I thought there was a hidden camera or something. I didn’t understand. It took about a half-hour for it to sink in.” But then, she said, she felt fear. She worried that the sitter’s husband, who had been arrested after giving a down payment to a hit man, might break out of jail and kill her.

At the civil trial two weeks later, the jury awarded the baby’s family $1.8 million. They expected about half to come from insurance and half from the assets of the babysitter and her husband. The insurance company refused to pay because they said they don’t cover intentional acts. The sitter’s assets had been placed in a trust after the initial incident and a court order would be required to seize them.

The sitter’s husband, while in jail awaiting trial on the murder conspiracy charge, was charged with taking out a murder-for-hire contract on four other people, including a district judge, a former deputy district attorney, a police detective, and a former friend who testified for the prosecution at the child abuse trial. “I want them fish bait,” he allegedly told an undercover police officer. His only previous arrest was for DUI several years earlier.

Both husband and wife will spend the rest of their lives in prison.

0089:  The mother, 24, told investigators she was frustrated because the 13-month-old baby would not stop crying after she fell off a bed. When confronted with the autopsy results, she admitted she lost her temper and shook the infant.

She took a plea bargain that reduced the charge to second-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 1-3 years.

0090:  Prosecutors dropped the charges, saying medical evidence could not disprove the 27-year-old nanny’s story that she tripped over the family dog and dropped the baby, aged 3 months. She had called 911 after the baby started gasping for air, grew pale and had a fixed stare. She was taken to Children’s Hospital, where doctors found retinal hemorrhaging and said the injuries were consistent with shaking.

“I don’t think she should ever have been arrested,” said her attorney. “I found the level of investigation done in this case pretty disturbing. ... I think they needed to do a more thorough job of investigating before filing such a serious charge.

The prosecutor said the nanny’s account was “kind of believable.”

The defendant was a Hungarian citizen who had worked as a nanny for six years with no complaints. She plans to enter law school and says she will never again do child care! The baby recovered completely.

0091:  The 3-week-old baby girl had gone with her unmarried parents to church in the morning, then to lunch with family members. They stopped at a friend’s house and a restaurant before returning home. According to their story, the baby had seemed fine during the day but spit up about 90 minutes after her last bottle. A nurse was called but said it might be normal because the formula had been changed.

The baby’s father, 25, suggested giving her a bath, thinking it might make her feel better. The parents gave her the bath together, and both said she cried and seemed fine during the bath. The mother went outside to dump the bathwater and returned to find the father running with the child to the bathroom. He said, “She’s pooping.” The mother went to get wipes and a diaper. When she returned, she heard the father say, “Baby, wake up! What’s wrong?”

The parents rushed the baby to the hospital, where she died.

The father was charged with first-degree reckless homicide and faced a possible 80-year prison sentence. According to a pediatrician and director of the child abuse program at Children’s Hospital, the injuries were consistent with someone shaking, squeezing or striking the infant. The baby had subdural bleeding, retinal bleeding, bruising of both upper eyelids and below both eyes, a facial contusion and rib fractures. One doctor said babies don’t “just go limp” and the little girl must have lost consciousness because she was shaken or hit. There were 11 healing rib fractures, which prosecution experts said could have occurred the only other time the mother let the baby out of her sight. A week earlier the child had been alone with the father for about 45 minutes, during which time he gave her her very first bath after she defecated.

Jurors acquitted, saying there was too little proof and too many unanswered questions. They said the prosecution didn’t present enough evidence that the father was the one who caused the death. Jurors were particularly unconvinced that the earlier injuries could be dated with confidence to the 45-minute period the father had previously been alone with the child. Jurors said the decision was exceptionally difficult. “We shed many tears in that room. It was tough.”

0092:  The defendant opened a child care center in her home in 1993. During that year, two infants died in her care and a third was diagnosed with shaken baby syndrome. She was convicted of murder in one case and sentenced to life in prison.

An appeal was filed based on the fact that the a diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome for a different child was presented to the jury. The appeals court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to established that the babysitter had injured the boy, as he was in the care of several others during the 24 hours prior to his severe symptoms becoming manifest. The conviction was overturned.

Prosecutors appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court:

Over the course of nine months in 1993, two infants died at the appellant’s home while she was providing daycare. A third infant in the appellant’s daycare was diagnosed with serious brain damage. The assault on the third child was tried separately, however, the appellant was acquitted of these assault charges. The two homicides were tried together. Appellant claimed that she was unfairly prejudiced by the joinder of charges and by the admission of evidence of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. The evidence collected at the home and testimony regarding the appellant’s behavioral responses to the death supported the State’s theory that the appellant’s motive was to kill the children in order to gain attention. The court found that the expert testimony regarding Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy and the attention seeking behavior of appellant was admissible as evidence of motive.

The Court also ruled that the joinder of charges was admissible under both motive and common scheme or plan. (Dissenting opinion held that it was reversible error to allow charges to be tried together, stating that the events did not arise out of a single chain of circumstances and required different proof.)

The original autopsies of the two murdered children reported the cause of death to be Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but subsequent examinations revealed evidence of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS). According to the expert testimony of State witness Dr. Ophoven, the autopsies of the two infants showed petechial hemorrhages and sub-dural hematomas, indicating the causes of the deaths were traumatic shaking and asphyxia. Dr. Ophoven further testified that she examined 274 autopsies from 1993 of all the children younger than one year in SC that died of SIDS. In her testimony, she stated that the two children that died in the appellant’s home were the only two that had petechial hemorrhages and subdural hematomas. This evidence validated her conclusion that petechial hemorrhages do not occur in SIDS cases. The court allowed testimony regarding other autopsy reports since “medical testimony created an issue regarding the significance of petechial hemorrhages in determining the cause of death of the two infants”.

Based on its analysis of the issues, the court upheld the appellant’s convictions.

0093:  The babysitter, 56, was described by an employee as a “bubbly, upbeat” woman who loves children. An assistant who helped her supervise about a dozen children, had been at the home day care for about two hours. The babysitter had put the 3-month-old boy down to nap and settled other children in the same room. She went outside to talk to her assistant. When she went in to check on the children, she found the room in a mess. The baby was lying on the floor. She called 911 and told the operator that she thought roughhousing children, a 3-year-old and two 4-year-olds, had pulled the baby off the bed and hurt him. He was later found to have four broken ribs, subdural hematoma, edema and retinal hemorrhages. The sitter was charged with first degree felony murder.

The older children testified by videotape. One boy demonstrated with a doll how he picked up the baby boy, dropped him on his face and stomped on him. The lead detective said he believed the sitter’s account. The boy’s stories from independent interviews matched the evidence and injuries.

Prosecutors, however, said the boys had been coached and even if they did hurt the baby, the sitter was responsible for allowing them to do so. The defense took advantage of the fact that prosecutors had not settled on a single theory. One juror said: “The prosecution didn’t have a clear idea of where they were going. After a year and a half of investigation, they should have had their ducks in a row. They never presented us with a plausible sequence of events to explain everything.”

Three states experts and three defense experts testified. A director of the National Center for Shaken Baby Syndrome assisted the prosecutor. According to a juror who spoke to the press afterward: “It was almost like the trial was more about shaken baby syndrome than about [this baby and this sitter]. They [the experts] had their was like they were trying to make some kind of statement.” Only one expert was deemed impartial and credible by the jury.

Jurors turned quickly from the murder to the negligence theory. They deliberated six hours before clearing the sitter of all charges.

The baby’s parents sued the sitter and her insurance company.

0094:  The defendant, 25, told police large dogs knocked over his girlfriend’s 20-month-old baby. The mother later discovered the child having trouble breathing. Before she called paramedics, the child’s eyes rolled back in her head and her breathing stopped. There was extensive bruising on the child’s legs, back, and skull.

The boyfriend left the state after the child died, but was apprehended by customs agents as he returned from Mexico two months after the child died. He had a history of assaults. He was initially charged with first-degree murder, but was tried for second-degree murder. Prosecutors did not believe they could demonstrate that he intended to kill the child. Bail was set at $500,000.

The defendant was alone with the child at the time of injury. Police said an officer heard him tell his mother that he killed the baby, a statement he denied making. He initially told police he had been doing yard work and had the baby outside when a big dog knocked her off the porch and she hit her head on a rock. Later he said the baby was outside playing and suddenly started crying, and that he assumed the dog had knocked her over. Experts for the prosecution stated that it was unlikely that falls could account for the extensive bruising, which was demonstrated to the jury on a life-sized chart of the toddler’s body using red and blue ink. One doctor said the bruises were caused by blows “produced by something relatively soft.... The common thing would be a hand or a fist.” Prosecutors argued that the defendant’s actions showed “extreme indifference.”

The jury returned a guilty verdict, and the sentence was 40 years, at least 20 of which would have to be served before parole could be considered.

0095:  The defendant, 25, was living with his girlfriend when the 7-month-old baby was hurt. He said that he awoke and heard the baby struggling to breath. She had been sick for several days with a high fever. He said he gave her some cough medicine with a decongestant and ran a bath for her. When she stopped breathing, he stated that he shook her a little to help her breathe.

The baby had a massive subdural hematoma but no significant signs of trauma. The diagnosis was “inflicted closed head injury.” A doctor said that the baby died from trauma resulting from her head being thrown back and forth with great force. Since the mother’s boyfriend said he had shaken her to help her breath, he was arrested.

The mother was charged with complicity to commit murder and criminal abuse. Police said she knew abuse was going on in the home, but did nothing to stop it. She reached a plea deal with prosecutors after her boyfriend’s trial, according to her attorney.

A forensic pathologist testified that the defendant was found to be paranoid schizophrenic and delusional about three months after the baby’s death.

Jurors deliberated for nearly three hours before reaching a guilty verdict, then met for another hour before recommending a life sentence. They rejected the option to find the defendant not guilty by reason of insanity or guilty but mentally ill.

An appeal was unsuccessful.

0096:  The 4-month-old baby stopped breathing while in his father’s care. The mother was at work. Doctors noticed bruising on the baby’s face and tests showed subdural and retinal bleeding. The pediatrician said it was a “classic” example of shaken baby syndrome.

The father, 29, testified that he found the boy unresponsive on the floor next to the bed. He thought the baby, who was born prematurely and had numerous health problems, must have hurt himself after rolling off the bed. He admitted to shaking the boy in a desperate attempt to revive him.

The defendant was in jail for 18 months, between the time of the boy’s death and his trial. A jury acquitted him of murder.

0097:  According to a written statement to investigators, the father, 30, said he shook the baby boy two days before he died because the infant would not stop crying. “I became frustrated and I put him in the car seat, brought him into the bathroom, picked him up and started yelling at him telling him why won’t he let us go to sleep,” the statement read. He said he shook the baby a couple of times, put him in the car seat and laid him next to the bed in the motel room where they were staying.

The next day, according to the statement, the baby did not eat much and at one point stopped breathing. At that point the defendant “smacked” the infant and poured cold water on him to wake him up. Then he performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and the baby began breathing.

The next night at 2:00 a.m., he woke to feed the infant but he had stopped breathing again.

The defense attorney argued that the defendant had not been read his Miranda rights before he was questioned. The defendant also testified that investigators told him if he did not tell them what happened, they would press charges against his girlfriend.

He was convicted and sentenced to 10 years.

The case was unsuccessfully appealed on the basis of incorrect jury instructions.

0098:  The sitter, 27, had cared for the 7-month-old girl and her older sister for nearly three months when the injuries were discovered. She had been referred to the child’s family through a friend.

A police officer, called to the home, found the baby on a couch, breathing quickly. Her right eye was closed and her left was partially open. Paramedics arrived minutes later and said the baby’s skin was pale and cold. She didn’t respond when an IV tube was placed in her foot.

The sitter first said she was holding the baby when the baby pushed against her chest, causing the child to fall backward. Later, she said the baby was crying, which made her angry. She threw or dropped the child into a padded playpen from about two or three feet above. The sitter was charged with two counts of willfully injuring a child because the doctor believed there could be “old blood” as well as fresh blood on the baby’s brain.

At the trial, the prosecution expert said neither explanation could account for the symptoms, which included extensive bleeding in the brain and eyes. “There was a lot of whiplashing,” she said. The baby suffered seizures at the hospital, but her condition improved enough that she was discharged four days later. By the time of the trial, there were no noticeable long-term effects of the injury.

The sitter was acquitted of inflicting the injury that caused the old blood. Jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the second count. Five of the jurors thought she was guilty of felony child abuse and seven believed the crime to be a misdemeanor. All believed she had committed a crime. A mistrial was declared and the prosecution announced they would retry the case. “If dropping a baby caused those sort of injuries, our emergency rooms would be filled with babies with brain injuries,” the prosecutor said.

Four months later, the sitter pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in county jail and four years of formal probation. The sitter, 27, had cared for the 7-month-old girl and her older sister for nearly three months when the injuries were discovered. She had been referred to the child’s family through a friend.

A police officer, called to the home, found the baby on a couch, breathing quickly. Her right eye was closed and her left was partially open. Paramedics arrived minutes later and said the baby’s skin was pale and cold. She didn’t respond when an IV tube was placed in her foot.

The sitter first said she was holding the baby when the baby pushed against her chest, causing the child to fall backward. Later, she said the baby was crying, which made her angry. She threw or dropped the child into a padded playpen from about two or three feet above. The sitter was charged with two counts of willfully injuring a child because the doctor believed there could be “old blood” as well as fresh blood on the baby’s brain.

At the trial, the prosecution expert said neither explanation could account for the symptoms, which included extensive bleeding in the brain and eyes. “There was a lot of whiplashing,” she said. The baby suffered seizures at the hospital, but her condition improved enough that she was discharged four days later. By the time of the trial, there were no noticeable long-term effects of the injury.

The sitter was acquitted of inflicting the injury that caused the old blood. Jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the second count. Five of the jurors thought she was guilty of felony child abuse and seven believed the crime to be a misdemeanor. All believed she had committed a crime. A mistrial was declared and the prosecution announced they would retry the case. “If dropping a baby caused those sort of injuries, our emergency rooms would be filled with babies with brain injuries,” the prosecutor said.

Four months later, the sitter pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in county jail and four years of formal probation.

0099:  The babysitter, 33, called 911 and then the boy’s father, saying the child had had a seizure. She was arrested on for shaking the child and held on $300,000 bond. There had been no prior complaints about her child care. She gave a statement to detectives that the baby had fallen onto a floor and suffered convulsions.

Telemundo, a Spanish-language Chicago TV station, aired her picture along with a story about a different baby being beaten to death. She had nothing to do with that case. She sued that station, saying the story was done “with reckless disregard for the truth,” causing her “emotional and economic harm” and leaving her “unable to sleep” because of “grief, shame, anxiety and depression.”

The baby who was in her care suffered head injuries and retinal hemorrhaging. The attorney firmly stated his client was innocent of the charge of aggravated battery to a child.

The final outcome of the case is not known.

0100:  The mother, 18, was caring for her baby and another child, aged 2 1/2, while the father was at work. The baby was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. He had fallen and bumped his head the previous day, but was released from the hospital after a CAT scan showed no injuries. Paramedics were called at 5:30 p.m. the following day when she said she discovered the baby was pale and had stopped breathing. Doctors found two skull fractures and significant bleeding in the head.

She initially denied harming the child, but confessed when confronted with the autopsy report. She then told police she had stayed awake all night because the baby would not stop crying and had shaken him twice that morning before laying him down.

She was arrested, charged with first-degree murder, and held on $750,000 bond. Her trial took place nearly three years after the incident. She was seven months pregnant during the trial.

Defense witnesses said the injuries resulted from an 18-inch fall into the toy box but prosecution witnesses countered that the injuries were more like a fall from a five-story building.

The jury deliberated about six hours before finding her not guilty of first degree murder. They convicted her of the lesser charge of manslaughter and she was sentenced to 8 years.

A case worker from the Department of Children and Family Services, who worked with the mother and her older son after the death, said the defendant repeatedly demonstrated calming patience with the older boy during supervised visits. She told the court she has a caring, supportive family and a strong relationship with her son. She considered her “a perfect candidate for probation.”

Go on to read Cases 101 - 200
Source:, ©Susan C. Anthony