Susan C. Anthony

Shaken Baby Syndrome: Case Summaries 101 - 200

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

Please read the introductory information before Case Summaries 1 - 100.

I would very much appreciate you contacting me if you are involved in a case. I may or may not have seen news coverage about it. Only fatal cases are well covered in the news, and even then coverage may be incomplete.

0101:  The babysitter, 32, was caring for a 4-month-old girl and five other children in her home. She called 911 to report the girl was limp and unresponsive. She was arrested and held on $100,000 bond. The child died about ten months later and the charge was upgraded to first degree murder.

A doctor stated that the injuries were the direct and immediate result of being violently shaken. A doctor who testified for the defense said the baby had a chronic subdural hematoma for 7-10 days before she became unresponsive.

An appeal hearing was unsuccessful. At that hearing, the baby’s parents wore buttons with the baby’s photo. The defendant’s children, aged 15 and 8, wore T-shirts that said “Please let her come home to her children.”

At the sentencing hearing, 37 people testified for the sitter. She was described as a model single mother of two who could calm other people’s children when their own mothers could not. In addition, 60 people wrote letters asking for leniency. Relatives, friends, and children she had cared for said she had dedicated her life to children. She was a schoolroom mom, a children’s program coordinator at a municipal library, and a mentor to other mothers. The librarian who hired her said she had “a calming influence, I would say, over the whole department.” The librarian said the defendant had more patience with her son than she herself did. Witnesses said she never raised her voice or hand to a child. Said the prosecutor, “If she’s such a fantastic parent, why did she shake that child so hard?”

After the judge sentenced her to 20 years, an uncle of the baby uttered a profane epithet and cried out derisively, “20 years for the murder of a baby!”

Said the babysitter, “I know I am innocent. I know the truth will one day set me free.”

0102:  The defendant, 40, was baby sitting a neighbor’s 11-month-old boy when the child went into respiratory arrest. She called the neighbor shortly before 8:30 a.m. The boy was found to have a severe brain injury, a detached or torn retina, and a fractured right ankle.

Ten doctors and five expert witnesses testified during the weeklong trial.

The prosecution’s case consisted mainly of opinions and examinations from medical experts. The jury took less than two hours to acquit the defendant of aggravated assault.

The baby recovered.

0103:  The father, 20, worked from 2 a.m. to 4 p.m. After playing with the baby when he got home, the father went into a bedroom. The mother was cooking dinner. The baby was crying, so the father took him into the bedroom at about 5:30 p.m. At 7:00 p.m., he cried out to the mother that the baby was unconscious. The parents put cold water on the boy’s forehead and fingers. After several minutes he started gasping for air. According to detectives, the parents watched him struggle to breathe for 20 to 25 minutes. Three hours later, the mother dressed him to go to the hospital, but the father refused to let the baby leave. The paternal grandmother was called in to help that night because the baby was not feeling well and wouldn’t sleep. She was there overnight.

A few hours later, after the father had gone to work, the mother saw the baby twitching. At that time, they took him to the hospital, some ten hours after he first began gasping for air, complaining that he had been fussy and lethargic throughout the night and at times yelled a high-pitched scream. She said later she didn’t take him to the emergency room earlier because it was flu season and she didn’t want him to get germs. She didn’t take him to the pediatrician because the office was closed.

Blood was found in the baby’s spinal fluid and brain. Doctors also said they found evidence of past abuse.

Both parents were arrested and charged with child neglect. The mother was convicted of culpable negligence and sentenced to 60 days. A judge ruled that the words “Shaken Baby Syndrome” could not be used at her trial.

The father was released on bond. At the time of the mother’s trial, there was a warrant out for his arrest but police had not been able to find him. He was eventually found in another state and held on $100,000 bond. His attorney asked that bond be reduced, citing health problems. The judge denied the motion, citing the defendant’s history of failing to abide by court orders.

The baby lived but has cerebral palsy.

The father was convicted of a lesser charge and sentenced to a year.

0103:  The sitter, 37, had been doing day care for about 15 years with no problems. A 4-month-old boy had been in her care for about three weeks. He had not been eating or feeling well. At about 3:15 p.m. one day, she noticed the baby was not breathing normally. She picked him up and he was limp. She called 911 and began CPR. Paramedics rushed the baby to the hospital and two police officers talked to her for seven hours.

The baby had no pulse and was not breathing on his own. He had a high blood-sugar reading and very high potassium levels. He also had a severe blood-clotting problem. He had bilateral retinal hemorrhages, but no subdural hemorrhage. There were no bruises or broken bones and no outward signs of injury.

From the beginning, the babysitter maintained her innocence. She turned down opportunities to plea bargain and repeatedly offered to take a lie detector test but was rebuffed.

The defense contended that the infant died of an unexplained medical condition. One prosecution expert witness said she ruled out SIDS because of the retinal bleeding. Another prosecution witness did not share his findings with the defense despite repeated requests. This was an issue at the trial.

A large number of friends, neighbors and parents came to the sitter’s defense and helped raise money for her legal expenses.

The first jury deadlocked 8 to 4 in favor of finding her guilty. One juror reported that another juror made the comment, “There’s a lot of blood here; someone has to pay for it.” Jurors who voted for acquittal in the first trial assisted the defense at the retrial.

Between the first and second trials, it was found that the mother’s breast milk contained a bacteria that can produce infections. The second jury acquitted the sitter of all charges. Afterward, she attempted to be declared factually innocent, which would seal her arrest records forever. That attempt was unsuccessful.

0104:  The sitter, 37, had been doing day care for about 15 years with no problems. A 4-month-old boy had been in her care for about three weeks. He had not been eating or feeling well. At about 3:15 p.m. one day, she noticed the baby was not breathing normally. She picked him up and he was limp. She called 911 and began CPR. Paramedics rushed the baby to the hospital and two police officers talked to her for seven hours.

The baby had no pulse and was not breathing on his own. He had a high blood-sugar reading and very high potassium levels. He also had a severe blood-clotting problem. He had bilateral retinal hemorrhages, but no subdural hemorrhage. There were no bruises or broken bones and no outward signs of injury.

From the beginning, the babysitter maintained her innocence. She turned down opportunities to plea bargain and repeatedly offered to take a lie detector test but was rebuffed.

The defense contended that the infant died of an unexplained medical condition. One prosecution expert witness said she ruled out SIDS because of the retinal bleeding. Another prosecution witness did not share his findings with the defense despite repeated requests. This was an issue at the trial.

A large number of friends, neighbors and parents came to the sitter’s defense and helped raise money for her legal expenses.

The first jury deadlocked 8 to 4 in favor of finding her guilty. One juror reported that another juror made the comment, “There’s a lot of blood here; someone has to pay for it.” Jurors who voted for acquittal in the first trial assisted the defense at the retrial.

Between the first and second trials, it was found that the mother’s breast milk contained a bacteria that can produce infections. The second jury acquitted the sitter of all charges. Afterward, she attempted to be declared factually innocent, which would seal her arrest records forever. That attempt was unsuccessful.

0105:  The baby was taken from his parents after a domestic dispute and placed into foster care with the defendant and his wife, who had previously cared for six other children. Two months later, the 2-year-old child died after slipping into a coma during a second hospital trip. The foster father has been the only person with the child prior to both hospital visits.

The defendant called his wife, a licensed practical nurse, rather than 911, when the baby went limp. The baby had detached retinas. Police conducted a lengthy, early morning interview that the defense contended was coercive.

Defense attorneys argued that the baby died from pre-existing medical conditions which led to hypoxic brain injury. They contended he had an autoimmune disorder from an ongoing illness.

Friends and family testified that the defendant was an exceptionally gentle man who never lost his temper. According to one source, however, there was a file in the county courthouse in which his former wife had asked for protection after “repeated physical and emotional abuse” and in which she described him as having an uncontrollable temper. The prosecutor said his outward demeanor gave no indication of the “silent inferno” within. “When that inferno blew,” she said, “it turned out to be the baby who got burned.”

The jury found him not guilty of second-degree murder but convicted him of assault and child abuse resulting in death. An appeal was unsuccessful. He was sentenced to 15 years.

He’s devastated,” said his attorney. “He’s been a model citizen. This incident happened and everyone thinks he’s a monster.” Medical records showed the baby reached out to the defendant during his hospitalization. “Does that sound like a child that’s afraid of him?” asked the attorney.

The baby’s father insisted that the crime was racially motivated and cited his motto, “I might not be right all the time, but I’m very seldom wrong. ... Where they don’t call it racial, I will.”

0106:  The father, 33, maintained that his 6-month-old son suffered a seizure after he fed him. He then slipped off his lap and landed on his head on a hardwood floor. The baby had not been well. His mother was taking Zoloft and breastfeeding. A babysitter said that a week before his death it took the baby a long time to finish his bottle. She said he “cried a lot” and his lungs were “rattling.” He had a history of bronchial problems. “It seemed he was struggling to get air,” said the sitter.

Upstairs neighbors, who claimed they could hear everything in the apartment, said they heard neither crying nor yelling that day.

A defense medical expert said the blood vessel damage may have been caused by a breathing tube that was inserted improperly. He believed swelling of the brain caused by the fall could have resulted in the symptoms observed.

The father, who had a previous conviction for forgery, was acquitted of first degree reckless homicide.

0107:  The baby’s parents had tried for 10 years to conceive a child. His babysitter, 56, said she left the baby on the floor with an 18-month-old cousin as she talked on the phone. When she returned, she found the child gasping for air.

The child suffered a fractured skull, retinal damage, and bruises to the nose and chin.

The lead investigator said that the sitter was the only person in the residence at the time of the injury who could have inflicted the injuries. She was arrested for felony injury to a child and bail was set at $75,000.

Later, she was arrested and charged as felon in possession of a firearm. She was found guilty of that charge, after which she accepted a plea bargain and was sentenced to 8 years for each charge, to be served concurrently.

Said a friend, “I’ve known her since 1971. I felt like she got railroaded and got poor representation. I feel that the child was injured before he came there. They begged her to babysit and it was raining and she already had two children there. She didn’t really want to do it. She said, ‘This is what happens when you’re nice to somebody.’”

The injury to a child trial had been reset 20 times for various reasons. A defense witness unexpectedly withdrew without explanation, causing another delay. The prosecutors decided to proceed with the gun case. During a warranted search of the home following the injury incident, officers had found a gun and charged the sitter with possession. She had been convicted years prior for felony theft of postal money orders and was about a year short of the rule that a felon cannot possess a firearm within five years after release from a sentence. It was an old gun but the jury determined it was not antique.

The baby lived but was legally blind and suffered from neurological problems. The parents filed a civil suit.

0108:  The 9-month-old boy had a very bad fall three days earlier at home on a holiday weekend. He was not taken to the doctor. On the day in question, the mother dropped him off and hurried away, which was unusual. Previously she had always stayed until he settled down.

The baby had been premature and delivered with a forceps caesarean. On the day in question, the baby’s cry escalated to a “piercing banshee scream” and then he passed out. The sitter picked him up and dialed 911. In just 22 minutes, he was admitted to the hospital. The mother called the sitter afterwards and said, “The neurosurgeon said you did an excellent job. Your response was immediate.”

A fire department ambulance transported the boy to Children’s Hospital, where he received emergency brain surgery. Doctors diagnosed shaken baby syndrome and provided the police with a letter explaining the time frame: “Victim’s severe inflicted injuries would have been immediately symptomatic” and apparent even to a non-medical observer. A CPS spokeswoman said: “In a case involving shaken baby syndrome, the visible signs are almost immediate. They will become lethargic and unresponsive.”

The defendant was not questioned. The police came to her home, placed her in handcuffs and took her to jail. Her husband did not know where she was when he got home. Her car was in the driveway.

One medical expert, after reviewing the medical records, offered to come out of retirement to testify in this case because he believed the charges were unfounded.

The baby recovered and is fine.

Nearly three years after the accusation, and days before jury selection was to begin, the judge signed an order to dismiss the case for lack of evidence. The sitter burst into tears. “I know I am one of the lucky ones who had a truly smart, tough, and totally dedicated attorney,” she said. “Others are not so fortunate. It took almost three years but he and the truth finally prevailed.”

“I would never consider taking care of children again. It is apparently far too dangerous and I had no idea the risk I was running for 20 years. They ripped three years out of my life, cost me my business, ruined my reputation for awhile, totally humiliated me in front of this small community, threw me in jail which scared the you-know-what out of me and cost me $40,000 to end something that I had nothing to do with.”

0109:  The mother’s boyfriend, 19, called 911 because the 10-month-old girl had stopped breathing. She died the next day. Police questioned him for more than two hours. He insisted repeatedly that he did not harm the baby, and speculated about several falls she had taken. He said the baby was tired, running a fever, and fussy because she was cutting teeth. She threw up three times, and the third time she gagged and stopped breathing. He called his mother, who told him to call 911. Later, he said the baby had fallen in her playpen and hit her head on hard toys. He also said that the mother had told him the baby fell once while he was in the shower. He said another time she fell backward and hit her head on a metal strip between the kitchen and living room. He continually insisted he had done nothing to hurt the baby.

He eventually admitted to police that he shook the baby, but not hard. He was trying to shake off her diaper. After he changed her, he put her in the tub, where she slipped and bumped her head. She acted like she “wanted to pass out”, so he took her into the living room where she vomited and stopped breathing.

He was charged with four counts of murder, $2 million bond. At trial, a cellmate from the jail was brought in to testify that the defendant admitted to him that he shook the baby and threw her on the floor.

The defense called the mother’s best friend, who testified that the mother had told her she was frustrated with the baby and had shaken her the day before she collapsed. At the time of that disclosure, no shaking allegations had yet been made.

A defense expert said the injuries likely occurred 2-3 days before her death.

The judge in a bench trial ruled that the evidence did not prove intent to murder beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant was convicted of manslaughter. He had already served more than a year in jail, which was deducted from his eight year sentence. Nearly 40 friends and family attended the trial.

Two years after the conviction, a law named after the baby unanimously passed both house of the state legislature that would require all schools in the state to incorporate instruction on shaken baby syndrome into all junior high, high school and college health-studies classes.

0110:  A father, 23, was charged with first degree murder in the death of his 41-day-old son.

Scheduling problems with medical experts delayed the trial repeatedly.

One medical expert, who generally testifies for the prosecution, testified that she didn’t believe trauma to the baby’s head caused his death.

The defense argued that statements the defendant had given police and physical evidence should not be entered as evidence because the defendant lied after police promised leniency.

The defendant was convicted and sentenced to 12 years.

0111:  The father plopped a car seat containing an untethered 3-month-old girl onto a small table inside the family camper, thinking she was too little to roll over or wiggle free. But the girl’s older sister pulled the seat down and the baby crashed onto a thinly carpeted floor three feet below. She was raced to the hospital.

One doctor said tests revealed child abuse. The baby was removed from the parent’s care. A criminal investigation was launched but no charges were filed. According to the doctor, the red flag was raised when a routine CT scan showed two different pockets of blood near her brain. An eye exam disclosed broken blood vessels in the back of both eyes. “Only certain injuries cause blood vessels in the eye to break; falls aren’t one of them.” A defense expert maintained that the older blood likely dated to the trauma of her birth and the newer one was a result of the fall. He also maintained that the neck would have been injured had the baby been severely shaken as the prosecution expert alleged.

The parents fought for months to regain custody. In the meantime, their children stayed with grandparents. The parents were allowed supervised visitation.

After nearly five months, a judge ruled that the baby had not been abused and charges were dropped. The baby was returned to her parents’ home.

0112:  A babysitter, 26, was accused of causing the death of a 6 1/2-month-old boy who had been found limp and unresponsive while in her care. She was charged with causing grave and permanent disabling injuries.

Witnesses testified that the infant seemed fine when his mother left him at the sitter’s house. Medical experts for the prosecution said brain damage as severe as the baby’s could only have been caused by violent shaking.

It was a complicated case for prosecutors because they had no eyewitnesses to the alleged crime and no confession. Other parents who had children in her care at the time testified on the sitter’s behalf.

The jury deliberated for just an hour before acquitting the sitter of all criminal charges. She lost her state license to operate a daycare in her home and faced charges in Family Court, which had barred her from seeing her own children except under supervision.

The child survived to the age of six. He died at home.

0113:  The 9-month-old baby was dropped at a sitter’s home about 7:10 a.m. At 4 p.m., the baby was rushed to the hospital after losing consciousness.

The sitter first said the baby awoke from a nap and as she carried him into the living room to change his diaper, his eyes rolled back in his head and he lost consciousness. Later, she said she tripped over a baby gate while walking into the living room and fell with the baby to the floor.

The baby had significant brain damage as well as cortical blindness. Doctors diagnosed non-accidental trauma, saying it was a “classical” case of shaken baby syndrome. The baby survived but is handicapped.

After a lengthy investigation, the sitter was charged with battery.

Nearly two years after the incident, the trial began. The baby’s 24-year-old mother, who said Medicaid helped pay the medical costs. “I am not angry or bitter,” she said. The father said they just wanted to know what happened. They had not filed a civil suit.

Four doctors testified for the prosecution. The physician who diagnosed the syndrome based on a “constellation of symptoms” admitted under questioning that a fall of five to six feet could have caused the seizures. The ophthalmologist said it was highly unlikely it was from a fall. A pediatric neurologist admitted he had been told the baby was a victim of Shaken Baby Syndrome before he made his own diagnosis.

The jury took 40 minutes to return a verdict of not guilty. A defense statement stated: “The defendant and her family are gratified and thrilled that the judicial system in White County functioned, and that the jury believed what she had insisted upon from the very beginning and that is that this is a tragic and horrific accident with devastating injuries to the baby and his family. They are grateful for the support of friends and family throughout this difficult, two-year ordeal.”

0114:  The defendant was married with three children. His wife decided to start a daycare at home and cared for 11 children. After some time, she decided she needed to get away from the house more often, so she took a night job, 4:00-9:00. Some of the kids weren’t picked up until 5:00, so the defendant agreed to watch them for that hour so the parents didn’t need to make adjustments.

On the day in question, the defendant was watching a 16-month-old boy, among other children. A nine-year-old girl told a police officer later that the baby had cried because he bumped his head on a door jam. She said the baby cried for 5 to 20 minutes and then stopped. When the defendant came into the room, the baby started crying again and the defendant put him in bed. The next time the girl saw the baby he was on the couch with the defendant. She said he was acting “kind of tired” and making a groaning sound. He was rolling and blinking his eyes and making short sucking or hissing noises while he breathed. The defendant left the room to get a drink for another child and returned about 15 minutes later to find the baby on the floor, seemingly asleep. He put him on the couch with his blanket. He did not admit leaving the children unsupervised in his first statement to the police.

When the mother came to pick up the child, he appeared to be sleeping with his back to her. After she came back from getting the diaper bag, she saw that his face was gray, with no “flesh color.” His eyes were open only slightly and he was breathing in “real short, low, gaspy breaths.” He did not respond to her. She screamed and bounced him on her knee, trying to get a response. The defendant called his wife to ask if anything had happened that day, then called 911.

He was found to have multiple skull fractures, a swollen brain, a subdural blood clot and retinal hemorrhages. No one claimed to know what could have caused the injuries. A doctor said the child would have been immediately unable to function. The charge was first degree murder and a possible death sentence.

The prosecutor stated during the trial, “We don’t know how he did it, just that he did.” A pediatric ophthalmologist testified that no amount of force, however excessive, could cause retinal hemorrhages other than an acceleration/deceleration force that requires a lot of sharp forward, or very strong forward and backward movement.

The defendant was convicted of the lesser charge of second degree murder on the basis that he had been the sole caretaker at the time of the baby’s collapse. No other suspects were considered or investigated. Three people on the jury worked with the baby’s mother. The jury foreman was her supervisor. The defense attorney admitted that he should have done a better job of questioning potential jurors. Jurors talked about the case at work before, during and after the trial.

On appeal, he argued that the evidence was insufficient to prove he caused the death and the prosecutor misstated facts during his closing argument. In fact, the defense could have been granted a mistrial at the time because of that misstatement but did not request it, settling for a curative statement. The appeals court disagreed, saying “In a circumstantial evidence case, the circumstances do not need to show absolute conclusions of guilt or impossibility of innocence; just because other possible hypotheses exist does not contribute reason enough to remove the case from the jury.”

The defendant’s wife divorced him a few years after the verdict.

0115:  Medics were called to the home in the evening because of an unconscious 4-month-old baby. The mother, 37, was interviewed the following day by police. She told detectives that she had been on the phone with the baby’s father. The conversation ended badly and she was upset. The baby began crying and her frustration level rose.

She said she picked up the baby and threw her back into the crib. When the baby looked like she was losing consciousness, the mother picked her up and started to shake her to see if she was all right.

The mother pleaded guilty to cruelty to children and served 2.5 years of a 5-15 year sentence (most suspended) in prison.

The child was in the state’s care for seven years after the injuries before she died. The death was ruled a homicide.

0116:  An hour after a 7-month-old baby was dropped off at the sitter's house early one morning, the sitter dialed 911 to report that she felt limp, appeared to be unconscious, and was not breathing. The child was rushed by paramedics to the hospital, where she remained in a semicomatose state until she died that night. The baby had been in the sitter’s day care for 17 days.

Shaken baby syndrome was diagnosed and the sitter, 35, was charged with first degree reckless homicide.

There was medical testimony that death was due to a cerebral hemorrhage probably caused by violent shaking or hitting within the preceding 24 hours—a period during which the only other caretaker was the baby’s parents. Defense lawyers contended that one or both of the parents, probably the father, had done the violent shaking or hitting. Evidence was presented that the father suffered migraine headaches, that the baby’s frequent crying and illnesses had caused him stress, and that he had been alone with her for 45 minutes the night before her death. The parents testified that they had never shaken or hit their baby girl, and evidence was presented by other witnesses that they were caring and loving parents. The defense theory was undermined by the fact that the sitter herself testified that the baby had appeared to be normal when she was dropped off the morning of her death.

Evidence regarding the parent’s demeanor during the crisis was disallowed in court. A helicopter rescue pilot, a police officer, and a chaplain noted an “odd” lack of panic or grief. The judge said: “Absent someone who has the expertise to interpret reactions, I don’t think the observations have any probative value.” Testimony was allowed regarding the defendant’s allegedly hysterical behavior, however.

Prosecutors claimed that it was unlikely that if the girl had been shaken so violently the night before as to induce a cerebral hemorrhage, she would have appeared normal to the sitter the next morning. There was evidence that the sitter had once hit another child on the head with a book. The baby’s frequent crying, which the sitter speculates had provoked the father to shake her, may just as easily have provoked the sitter.

The sitter was convicted and sentenced to 18 years.

The state Innocence Project took on the appeal and called three doctors who had changed sides in the ongoing debate about shaken baby syndrome, including one doctor whose opinion on the timing of the injury had helped win the conviction in the first trial. The appeal was widely publicized, but was unsuccessful. The verdict was affirmed. The defense appealed to a higher court, and the conviction was overturned. “A debate has developed,” said the court, “over whether babies can be killed by shaking alone, how long they can live with traumatic head injuries, and whether similar symptoms can be caused by other factors.” Six days later, she was freed from prison pending another trial.

Eventually, she was cleared and wrote a book about the experience.

0117:  The defendant, 21, was caring for his own child and a friend’s, who lived in the same house, while the mothers worked (he worked evenings). He took the year-old baby to the hospital about noon with labored breathing. Doctors found severe brain damage. He was accused, arrested, and charged with murder. About the fact that he drove the baby to the hospital rather than calling 911, the prosecutor said, “No one does that unless they have something to hide.”

The baby had been glassy-eyed and lethargic for days. X-rays showed two partly healed broken ribs. The baby had no bruises or neck injuries.

The defendant steadfastly maintained his innocence. Several people described him as a patient, mellow person. The mother was not considered a possible suspect

The case depended almost entirely on timing. The mother supported the sitter until she was told she was the only other possible suspect. A police detective allegedly said to the defendant, “It’s either you or the mother, and she has the maternal instinct.” The prosecutor said, “The medical evidence is overwhelming.”

The defense medical expert was so incredulous at the state pathologist’s comment about some evidence that she threatened to report him to his professional association if he uttered that opinion from the witness stand.

The jury deliberated for a week. Initially, a majority favored acquittal. They finally became convinced that retinal bleeding was one injury that could not have been “percolating along” for a long time. After the conviction, a juror called a “Friends of the Court” representative and said, “I’ve convicted an innocent man.”

The sentence was 20 years, with no time suspended. An appeal was unsuccessful.

0118:  The mother returned home to find her son’s limp body in his father’s lap. The father said the baby had choked, and he was trying to resuscitate him. Doctors diagnosed shaken baby syndrome. The mother divorced the father and tried to sever all ties with him.

A jury found the defendant guilty and sentenced him to two years in prison. The judge, however, refused to make the jurors’ decision official. He was not convinced of the defendant’s guilt, in part due to confusing and conflicting medical testimony. He did research that raised further doubts.

The defense maintained that a human being is not capable of creating adequate force to explain the injuries. He suggested that forceps used during delivery may have hurt the baby.

The defendant remained free pending an appeal, which was unsuccessful. Two and a half years after the conviction, he was incarcerated to serve a 2-year sentence.

0119:  A month before the baby was born, the mother and the defendant, 30, met through a computer bulletin board. They had mutual friends and were introduced. Four weeks after the baby was born, the mother decided to spent time shopping with her oldest son, aged 12. Her boyfriend stayed home to watch the baby.

The 7-week-old girl had been cranky in the days before the mother’s outing. Other friends were available to watch the baby but she wanted her to be at home because she wasn’t feeling well. She and the defendant had watched a show on shaken baby syndrome and she was confident he was capable of watching the baby while she shopped. He had no prior history of violence.

When the mother arrived home, the baby was pale and limp, struggling to breathe. She thought she was suffering from asthma. Paramedics were called and took the baby to the hospital, where she died four days later.

The mother said her boyfriend repeatedly said, “I didn’t do anything” while they were at the hospital. Later, he said, “I racked my brains for four days trying to think what had happened to her.” Eventually, in the course of interrogation, he said, “I lost control for a moment.” He continued to deny that he shook the baby hard.

There were no external injuries. The brain was bleeding and swollen.

He pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide. At his sentencing hearing, he said he’d give his own life it could bring the baby back. He was sentenced to 18 months, 1,000 hours of community service, and fined $5,000, to be paid to the baby’s mother.

0120:  The baby had been born prematurely. Seven days prior to her collapse, she was brought to the emergency room for vomiting and diarrhea and was sent home. The following day she was at the emergency room again for the same symptoms. That time she fell out of a carrier-type car seat onto the emergency room floor.

A week later, the mother received a call only about 15 minutes after she had last seen the baby, who seemed at the time a little fussy. “He [the father] said you need to come home right now. Something’s wrong with the baby.” When the mother got home, the baby was lying on the couch and making a gasping sound. They took the baby to the hospital, stopping at a police station en route to request an escort. An ambulance took her from the police station to the hospital. The baby was admitted. When she was released 32 days later, she was able to breathe on her own but is impaired.

A defense medical expert believed that a reaction to vaccinations given to the child two days prior to her collapse could have caused the symptoms. Because the child had been premature and was sick, the vaccinations should have been delayed.

The final outcome of this case is not known.

0121:  The baby had been adopted along with an unrelated 2-year-old child from Russia two years prior to his collapse. Emergency workers were called to the home after the adoptive mother, 33, called for help. She said she couldn’t wake the 16-month-old boy, so she took him to the bathroom to splash water on him and may have bumped his head in the bathtub. He had no bruises.

Doctors concluded he had been shaken and said he had poor nutrition, poor hydration and poor weight gain. The mother had expressed concern from the beginning to friends about the baby’s strange hand movements, violent rocking back and forth, head-banging and hair- and ear-pulling. He would start and stop crying abruptly. Friends thought he was perhaps mentally retarded. He was insatiably hungry at first but in the days before he collapsed was not interested in eating.

He had been vaccinated two weeks prior to his hospitalization and death.

The defendant was allowed to post bail, which was unusual. State law normally did not allow defendants to post bail on a murder charge unless the defense could show the evidence was not likely to result in a conviction.

Detectives received a report from Russian doctors concerning the child’s health prior to adoption. The report was not forwarded to prosecutors or made public.

Five and a half years after the baby’s death, the defendant was acquitted of murder, battery and neglect.

0122:  The defendant, 27, was discharged from the army after being wounded in combat in Iraq. A booby trapped package from a weapons cache exploded and he received burns to his face, hands, fingers and lower back. He was honorably discharged with an 80% disability.

He had met the baby’s mother two years earlier. The baby’s father was a married man with a family who had abandoned her. After discharge, the defendant and the baby’s mother moved in together. He attended school and worked at night. The mother was looking for work. There were disagreements about child rearing. The mother said the defendant spoiled her child.

One day the mother burst into the apartment, saying the baby had fallen down the stairs outside and landed at the bottom on her buttocks. She refused to take the baby to a doctor, stating fear of child protection and the fact that their Medicaid hadn’t been transferred to the new location. The next morning the mother said she felt a large lump on the back of the child’s head. The following day the baby began vomiting and running a high fever. The mother took her to the hospital where she was given medicine for cold and fever. No X-rays were taken because she the fall was not mentioned.

After she came home from the hospital, the baby took another bad fall when a child ran into her with a bike. Later that day, while playing with a ball, she suddenly stopped and stared blankly at the wall, drooling profusely. Several days later she had a seizure. 911 was called and the baby was taken to the fire department. She went by ambulance from there to the hospital.

Police interviewed the two adults and accused the mother’s boyfriend of shaking the baby. He was arrested and spent two months in jail awaiting a bond hearing. He steadfastly maintains he is innocent.

A public defender got permission and some funding from the court to have the baby’s medical records reviewed. In them, there was reference to the mother’s aggressiveness at the hospital and to godparents attempting to get custody from the mother because of her behavior toward the child. Because of the defendant’s hardship situation, a medical expert offered to testify pro bono for the defense.

The case ended with a plea bargain.

0123:  The defendant quit her corporate job to stay home with her then 6-month-old child. She loved watching children and started a daycare in 1999. One baby seemed to have some health problems, loud moaning, trouble feeding, spitting up with force, and an inability to hold up his head. The parents dismissed the sitter’s concerns about these symptoms. Several times, the parents did not seek medical treatment when appropriate, once when he had a bad eye infection and again when he had diarrhea for nearly two weeks. He was finally taken to the hospital at the sitter’s insistence.

The sitter decided the child had special needs and gave the parents written notice of termination in two weeks. When the mother said she couldn’t find alternate care, the sitter agreed to watch him for another week. One day, after the sitter changed the baby’s diaper, he jerked away from her as she was carrying him and banged his head against a door frame.

The next morning the mother called, saying the baby had been vomiting and foaming at the mouth. The sitter insisted he be taken to the doctor, where he was diagnosed with a virus. The next day he was taken to a different doctor, who again diagnosed a virus. The parents reported he was vomiting over the weekend, but they brought him back on Monday. The sitter noticed he seemed pale and tired. He slept much more than normal and wasn’t interested in his bottle. The following day he fell asleep almost immediately. About 45 minutes later, he woke with a high-pitched scream and spit up. He seemed to be choking on vomit. He began to turn gray. She cleared his throat and called the mother, who said she’d come later, during her lunch hour. The sitter insisted she come immediately.

The doctors diagnoses meningitis and the baby was admitted to the hospital. Two days later, detectives showed up to question her. They pressured her to confess. She insisted she had nothing to confess about.

The child’s health history was not deemed especially relevant. The sitter was accused of violently shaking the baby for nearly 15 minutes. She was convicted and sentenced to probation. An appeal failed.

The baby recovered completely.

0124:  The baby was the only son in a group of triplets. One day the father, 38, stayed home with the babies, aged 14 weeks, while the mother and an older son went to church. When the mother returned, her son was pale and shaking, having trouble breathing.

Doctors accused the father of shaking the child.

Further details are not available.

0125:  The 2-year-old girl’s aunt, 34, who is from Egypt and speaks little English, had been babysitting for about two hours when she heard a thud on the stairway while she was feeding her own daughter in the kitchen. She checked and the girl was at the bottom of the stairs. She surmised she had fallen and tried to revive her with perfume and a cut onion. A neighbor testified that she ran out of the house with the girl in her arms shouting “Hospital! Help!”

There was web-like hemorrhaging in the girl’s skull. Autopsy results showed she had an old brain hemorrhage, dated three weeks prior, and a new hemorrhage dated 36 hours before she died. The state’s case rested mainly on the fact that the defendant was the only adult with the child at the time of her death. Prosecution experts said the injuries were too severe to have come from a fall.

The defendant’s own children were taken away by the state.

Nearly a year after the child died, her aunt was charged with first-degree murder, which carried a mandatory life sentence. Her bond was set at $500,000. Later, the bond was reduced to $300,000 in order to free up money for her to pay for at least one medical expert. The prosecutor, who called three expert witnesses, protested.

In a bench trial, the judge acquitted her, saying someone had intentionally hurt the child but the prosecution had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt who it was. Questions left unanswered in the case, he said, showed that no one knew enough about what happened to pin a first degree murder charge on her aunt. The woman collapsed in a flood of emotion when the verdict was announced.

0126: The defendant, 27 and a native of Peru, had cared for the 14-month-old twin and his siblings for nearly a year. She was planning to return to Peru and had already moved out of the family’s home, but she agreed to stay on for two more days and to help the parents interview a new nanny. She called 911 requesting a Spanish translator and said the baby had thrown up blood and food he had just eaten, then started convulsing.

The police interrogation, conducted without a translator, lasted more than 12 hours. She said she had sat the baby on a counter the previous day from which he fell. The following day she accidentally bumped his head against a door frame. He began vomiting and convulsing, and later stopped breathing. They alleged she changed her story several times.

Prosecutors contended that she beat his head against a kitchen cabinet door. They said two small bruises on the boy’s right temple matched nails in the cabinet. One of the cabinet doors had an 8.5 inch crack at the top and was held together with masking tape which was found to have the defendant’s DNA on it. They said the masking tape proved she was trying to hide what she’d done. The trial depended heavily on medical evidence and opinions.

The jury took seven hours to convict her of capital murder. The verdict carried an automatic life sentence without parole.

The mother said to her: “On October 12 (the day before), we thought you were the best thing that could happen to our family.” “If it were my decision, you would not be allowed to breathe. You do not deserve to live and be on this planet with decent people. You are a terrible, rotten, evil baby killer.”

The father said: “You have a miserable life ahead of you. You will never have a baby, and I know you wanted to have kids, so I’m glad that [your] dream is ruined. I truly hope you get beat every day and know how hard it is to suffer some of the pain [our son] had to suffer. I will enjoy the day when I call the jail and find out you have been beaten.”

Some of the nanny’s family members shouted from the gallery after the verdict: “This is all a big mistake. You made a big mistake! She didn’t do it!” Some were escorted out of the courtroom.

The trial was covered extensively in the Spanish-language press.

Three years after the conviction, the appeals court overturned the verdict, criticizing the judge for barring an expert witness for the defense and for not allowing the defense to cross-examine a forensic expert who had written a report. The prosecution retried the case and the jury again convicted.

0127:  The defendant, 24, was babysitting a 15-month-old girl, her older brother, and two of her own children when the girl collapsed. She testified she had worked that day in a furniture store office and was tired and sick with the flu.

The baby had emergency surgery to remove a blood clot from her brain. She also had bruises on her cheeks, chin and chest, and a broken leg. The baby’s mother testified that her 5 1/2 year old son would pinch, push and kick his little sister. That was the sitter’s defense.

The defendant, pregnant during her trial, was convicted of first-degree assault of a child and sentenced to 15 years. The sentencing guidelines, which considered the severity of the crime and the defendant’s criminal history, dictated 8-10 years. The judge, citing the vulnerability of the victim and the fact that the defendant was supposed to be protecting the child, sentenced her to 15 years.

A later United States Supreme Court decision limited a judge’s prerogative to increase penalties without a jury determining the aggravating factors beyond a reasonable doubt. Based on that decision, a Court of Appeals upheld the conviction but reduced the 15-year sentence to 10 years.

The baby survived but suffered permanent brain damage.

0128:  The 2-year-old boy was found dead in his room and 911 was called. The mother’s 24-year-old boyfriend, who had been watching the child, was charged with assault of a child resulting in death. Officials said that the bleeding in the boy’s head could only have been caused by blunt trauma or violent shaking. The defendant was arrested and spent the next nine months in jail on a million dollars bail.

The cause of death on the death certificate was noted as “pending”.

A local CBS I-team investigation revealed that the baby may have died from Crouzan’s Syndrome, a rare disease he had since birth. The disease prevents a child’s skull from expanding properly as his brain grows. The boy had previously had several seizures and two skull surgeries to relieve pressure on his brain.

The mother’s family hired an independent medical examiner to conduct a second autopsy. “This was my only grandson. If I had one feeling that [the defendant] was involved, I would be the first one on the DA’s desk to want justice.”

Nine months after the accusation was lodged, a judge released the defendant, saying there was insufficient evidence to warrant a trial.

0129:  Between 11:40 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on the day in question, the baby was alone with the mother’s boyfriend. During that time, according to prosecutors, the defendant became irate at the infant when he wouldn’t stop crying. He then struck the infant in the head several times before picking him up and throwing him in the crib. The baby bounced from the crib and landed on the floor. When the mother returned, she noticed that his breathing was labored and there was a large knot on his head.

Subsequently, the baby had scoliosis and brain injuries.

The child lived 14 years. The defendant was convicted of child abuse and served 2.5 years of a 5 year sentence. The baby was taken from the mother for unspecified reasons and lived with a foster family for ten years until his death.

At the time of the baby’s injury, the law forbade the prosecution from bringing charges of murder if the injury that later resulted in death occurred more than a year and a day prior to the death. That law has since been changed but because it was in effect at the time of the incident, the defendant could not be tried for murder.

0130:  The mother’s boyfriend, 23, was watching her 8-month-old child while she worked. He said the baby fell off a water bed and struck his head on a wood floor. Doctors found brain swelling and bleeding as well as retinal bleeding and said he had been shaken.

The baby’s mother blamed the hospital rather than the defendant for her child’s death.

The first trial ended with a hung jury. The second trial resulted in a conviction for second-degree murder and a sentence of 30-75 years.

0131:  The mother had left her daughter with the babysitter less than ten minutes before she collapsed and 911 was called. The sole police investigator was a childhood friend of the baby’s father. The parents were not questioned until a week had elapsed and were never considered possible suspects. The mother was later proven to have lied under oath, as was the police officer.

There were old retinal hemorrhages as well as recent ones. The old ones were never explained. No medical history of the child was gathered. The defense medical expert said the blood clot had not been examined under a microscope to determine its age. The baby sitter had a perfect record.

The first trial ended in a mistrial. The second resulted in a hung jury. The baby sitter finally accepted a plea bargain.

0132:  A few days prior to the baby’s collapse, he fell off a couch at a friend’s house. He was struggling to breath but seemed to recover. He later fell off a couch at home while alone with his father, 26. He screamed for about 15 minutes and afterwards seemed very tired. All he wanted to do was sleep. The father bounced him and tried to keep him awake because he had been told not to let a baby sleep if he had hit his head. Later in the day the baby began screaming inconsolably. He called his wife, then a pediatric nurse. The mother returned home and they took the boy to the hospital. En route, the child was was screaming and inconsolable.

Doctors called police because they were concerned that the injuries were too severe to have been caused by the fall described. His entire brain was black-looking on the CT scan. A doctor at Children’s Hospital told the police detective he was 99.9 percent certain the child’s death had been caused by someone.

The report by DCS said that investigators interviewed both parents several times. Their stories didn’t change. The father waived his MIranda rights and agreed to take a polygraph test but the results were never released. The father had a history of arrests including DUI and possession of marijuana.

No charges were filed until a year and a half after the baby’s death.

Prosecutors argued that he killed his son to stop his crying and an Assistant DA said it was the worst case of Shaken Baby Syndrome he’d ever seen. The defense attorney said in his opening statement that his client probably caused the death of his son, but without malicious intent. The mother maintained from the beginning that the baby’s injuries were caused accidentally. She said the defendant was “a great father, very good, loving, [and] caring.”

The jury acquitted the father on the first degree murder charge, but convicted him for second-degree murder. He sentenced to 25 years.

The mother was then indicted for filing a false report and for perjury. The state said they will seek a conviction on the false report and only pursue the perjury charge if they can’t get the false report to stick.

An appeal was unsuccessful. The appellate court said the medical evidence against the appellant was clear, consistent, and devastating. All three doctors testified that the combination of injuries could not have been caused by anything other than severe and violent shaking.

0133:  From the beginning, things didn’t seem right with the baby. Everyone asked what was wrong with him. All he did was sleep. Twice, the mother picked him up beneath his arms and he screamed. Two months after he was born, he seemed to have a fixed look. He was taken to the hospital for seizures.

Doctors found 14 broken bones and head injuries but no retinal hemorrhage. They diagnosed abuse. The couple’s older children were removed from the home. A grand jury met but no indictment was handed down. It was believed the child had been abused, but it was not clear who was the abuser. The boy lived in a vegetative state for five more years.

The mother divorced the baby’s father, hoping it would help her get her children back. She had a child by another man and moved out of state, hoping the new baby would not be taken away. Eventually, she became pregnant again by the same man who had fathered the baby who died. The baby was not normal. He appeared to be gagging and pulling himself into a little ball. The family doctor, in his first week of practice, had the parents rush the baby to Children’s Hospital. Doctors there diagnosed cerebral palsy, but later discovered his brain had hemorrhaged and shrunk to half its size and suspected child abuse.

This time, a geneticist intervened. He examined the child and told the parents the boy’s bones were like glass. He had fractures from head to toe. Another geneticist ran her fingers through his kinky hair. She ordered some tests and diagnosed the boy with Menkes Disease, a genetic condition that results in lower-than-normal accumulation of copper in the liver and brain, but very high levels in the kidneys and intestinal lining. That baby died soon afterward.

A test was done on tissue samples of the first child. It confirmed that he, too, had the disease. The prosecutor closed the homicide investigation.

The geneticist who reached the correct diagnoses said the recognized incidence of Menkes Disease is 1 in 300,000 births, but added, “There are probably quite a few more cases out there that we’re not recognizing because it looks like child abuse.”

The mother then attempted to regain custody of the children that had been taken by child protection, but they had been permanently adopted out. State law said adoptions could not be reversed for any reason one year after they were finalized.

0134:  The baby’s stepfather, 28, told police the 6-month-old boy had thrown up after a feeding and that he had given the child a cold bath because he had a fever. He was then taken to the hospital, where he stopped breathing.

The case was settled with an Alford plea and the stepfather was sentenced to a year of home detention plus 3 years probation.

Doctors would have testified that this was a “textbook case” of shaken baby syndrome, and that the injuries probably occurred within an hour of when he stopped breathing.

The child is ventilator dependent. He does gasp for breath on his own from time to time.

0135:  The mother’s boyfriend, 33, is a devoted father and soccer coach, according to those who know him. One day, his son tripped on a shoelace while carrying the 7-month-old son of his girlfriend. The baby’s head hit the kitchen floor, concrete covered with tile, forcefully. The defendant saw the baby’s eyes roll back and rushed him to the emergency room. Doctors examined him and said nothing was wrong. X-rays showed no skull fractures.

The next day, the baby didn’t act like himself. Two days later in the evening, the mother and an older child went shopping. The defendant and another child watched cartoons while the baby slept in his crib.

When the baby woke up, the defendant made him a bottle and tried to feed him. Within seconds, the baby had a seizure. He was rushed to a neighbor, a nurse who lived down the street. She did CPR and the defendant called 911. An ambulance sped the boy to the hospital, where he died the following day.

Doctors concluded the baby’s collapse had nothing to do with the fall. They insisted, “Somebody in the family killed this child. The evidence is clear and convincing.” They said his injuries were so severe he would have been unconscious seconds after being hurt.

“It was like their mind had already been made up,” said the mother.

The defendant was accused of injury to a child, with a possible life sentence. He denied guilt and refused a plea bargain. The mother stood by him. Her other child was removed from the home on the day of the baby’s funeral. She was pregnant with another child. Social workers arrived the day of his birth to take him away. The mother offered to move away from the father, but CPS said it wouldn’t make any difference.

Just before the trial, the defendant accepted a plea bargain for 10 years probation. His record will be cleared after he finishes probation. “It was the scary thought of just not knowing what was going to happen to you after you put your life in 12 people’s hands,” he said of his decision to accept the plea.

This case was the subject of a Prime Time Live special and 48 Hours Investigates.

0136:  The sitter, 29, reported to emergency personnel that the 8-week-old child was not eating, was crying, and was having difficulty breathing. She was a licensed day-care provider and had cared for him for two weeks.

The Child Advocacy Protection Team said his injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome.

She took a plea bargain and served four years in prison, then two months in community corrections, and then another two years in prison. She took classes in prison and was in a Bible study group. She was eventually released on parole.

While still on parole, she gave birth to a daughter. The father was given custody and she was allowed only limited supervised visits. The mother fought for shared custody. The judge ordered that she undergo further counseling before gaining any custody of the child.

0137:  The father, 28, said his 3-month-old baby fell off a couch. When interviewed again, he admitted he got frustrated with the baby because he was crying, and threw him onto a couch. The baby hit his head on the arm of the couch and was stiff and unresponsive when picked up.

The doctor said the injuries could not possibly have been caused by a 16-inch fall onto a carpeted floor. He also said the baby had another injury, weeks to months old, consistent with shaken baby syndrome.

The defendant accepted a plea bargain on an assault charge and was sentenced to four years.

The baby recovered.

0138:  The mother’s boyfriend, 27, changed the 6-month-old baby’s diaper before he and his girlfriend left her parents’ home. A few minutes down the road, they heard the baby make strange noises. They stopped the car and called 911. An ambulance came and took the baby to the hospital.

That evening, two police officers went to the baby’s grandparent’s home, where the baby lived. The grandmother allegedly told them, “It’s not shaken baby syndrome.” This was prior to the doctor’s diagnosis.

The defendant was questioned for four hours at the hospital with high-pressure interrogation techniques. In the end he “confessed” by signing a statement written by one of the police officers. The jury deliberated less than three hours before convicting. He was sentenced to 12 years.

The defendant’s family claims the state convicted the wrong person. Police evidence that may have implicated someone else, the mother’s brother who had a history of violence, wasn’t allowed before the court during the trial. The petition for a new trial claimed the state ignored or didn’t have evidence that would have helped clear the defendant. Investigators and others worked pro bono because they strongly believed in the innocence of the defendant. A state representative, co-chair of the legislature’s judiciary committee, showed interest in the case.

A new attorney considered filing a habeas corpus petition alleging the trial lawyer was ineffective or requesting a new trial.

The baby’s mother accepted a plea bargain to risk-of-injury and was ordered to serve an 18-month jail term. The baby was placed in foster care.

The case was appealed unsuccessfully.

0139:  The mother was accused of shaking her son, who was left blind and handicapped. She was convicted and imprisoned at a women’s correctional institution. One of the terms of parole was that she should have no care, custody or control of minor children for ten years. She became pregnant again and gave birth to a baby boy who was placed in foster care.

In a article, she acknowledged that she had caused the child’s injuries but said she hoped to have other children and be a good mother.

0140:  The parents had hired the defendant, 34, a former nurse’s aide and Bible school teacher, to watch their chronically ill child for three nights a week while they slept. He died after being in her care for more than four hours. There were bruises on his back, neck and shoulders, and bleeding in his brain and eyes.

The defendant did not take the stand. She was convicted and sentenced to life. Later, a judge ruled that the law mandating a life sentence was unconstitutional and reduced her sentence to 50 years.

An appellate court overturned the conviction. They ruled that prosecutors failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that no one else, namely the parents, had the opportunity to commit the crime. The parents denied involvement and voluntarily took lie detector tests. The case was appealed by prosecutors to the state Supreme Court, which refused to consider it further.

The defendant insisted throughout that she was innocent. “I am a very faithful Christian, and I knew God would deliver me somehow at some time. I’m ecstatic, and I’m grateful to both the appeals court and the Supreme Court,” she said upon her release.

0141:  The father, 27, testified that he shook his 8-week-old daughter to revive her after she fell onto a tile floor from her baby carrier. Medical experts said the injuries could only have been inflicted with strong and intentional force. Medical testimony was key.

Detectives said the defendant changed his story during his interrogation, which lasted from midnight until 6:00 a.m. First he said she suddenly stopped breathing. Then he said his three-year-old son had knocked the child from her carrier. Then he said he shook the baby a couple of times in an attempt to wake her up. Finally he said he had been frustrated and he didn’t know how many times he shook her.

Prosecutors contended that by not providing medical personnel with vital information about how the baby was injured, he further endangered her life. The father was convicted and sentenced to life.

An appeal was unsuccessful. The state Supreme Court refused to reconsider the appeal court’s decision.

0142:  The parents, Old Order Amish dairy farmers, found their 4-month-old daughter unconscious. The infant had been vomiting for days. At the hospital, a doctor noted a hemorrhage in her right eye and extensive bruising on her body. He notified police and CYS, who arrived on the family farm the next day during an evening milking and took away the couple’s seven other children, all boys, ranging in age from 5 to 15. The baby girl died the following day.

The father contacted the Clinic for Special Children in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and pleaded with pediatrician D. Holmes Morton to find the cause of the girl’s death. The mother told Dr. Morton that she had had to put socks on the baby’s hands because she had been scratching her own face. This can be a sign of an underlying liver disease.

Dr. Morton, an expert on Amish illnesses, diagnosed a vitamin K deficiency and glutaric aciduria type 1 (GA-1). Because Amish children are often delivered by a midwife and breastfed, they do not get vitamin K in shots and baby formula. Because Amish generally marry within their group, genetic diseases are more common than in the general population. Even had this baby gotten enough vitamin K, her body would not have been able to break it down because of the GA-1. This baby also had a bile-salt transporter disorder.

0143:  The mother’s third child, an 18-month-old twin, had slipped on a rain-slick concrete walkway, hitting the back of his head, but did not seem to be seriously injured. About four hours later, she found him unconscious and called 911. Initially, the medical examiner was inconclusive about the cause of death. Nine and a half months later, another coroner was brought in. He diagnosed shaken baby syndrome and ruled the death a homicide. The defendant, 31, was arrested and charged with second degree murder. She spent 7 months in custody. Bail was set at $500,000.

The defense attorney, formerly a deputy district attorney, said, “I realized it was a medical case with a client who did not fit any of the MOs: No prior abuse with the children. No prior crimes. I don’t think she’s ever even had a parking ticket.” He contacted four medical experts, who independently reviewed the medical records. After receiving two of their reports, prosecutors passed them on to a neuropathologist at Children’s Hospital, who said the defense experts’ conclusions were reasonable. He could not say for certain whether the death was an accident or a homicide.

Luckily for the defendant, she had a well-heeled family friend who was willing to fund her defense. “They say justice is blind, but it’s really not,” said her attorney. “Justice needs to have an expenditure of money to find experts who are well thought of.”

This was one of the few cases where the strength of defense expert opinion prompted prosecutors to drop charges that had already been filed.

0144:  The 6-month old boy was in a house mate’s care in the evening. The mother said the child was fine when she left. When she returned, the sitter told her to be quiet because the baby was sleeping. At 5:00 the next morning, the mother was awakened by the house mate, who said the baby didn’t look right. The mother checked and the child was very hot.

An hour later, at the hospital, the baby was having seizures and a CAT scan confirmed bleeding in the brain and retinal damage. The doctors diagnosed shaken baby syndrome and said the extent of the injury was significantly worsened because of a delay in seeking medical help. Part of the baby’s skull was removed to release the pressure on the brain. Half of the baby’s brain, said the prosecution expert, was dead.

The baby recovered although a prosecution expert predicted that he would need care for the rest of his life. The house mate was charged with aggravated battery.

After five hours of deliberation, the jury reported that it was hopelessly deadlocked.

15 months later, there was a second trial, with a new public defender. Between the two trials, the defendant pleaded guilty to aggravated battery, strangulation, and invasion of privacy of a woman in an unrelated case. A plea agreement specified a six-year sentence with three years suspended.

0145:  The defendant had a 4-month-old boy in her day care for nine days. On the tenth day he was taken for a well baby check and vaccinated with DTaP, HiB Titer, Hepatitis, Polio and Prevnar. He was dropped at the sitter’s at approximately 10:00 a.m. and seemed fine until 3:30 p.m. when he was found unresponsive and barely breathing. She called 911 and did CPR.

At the hospital, the doctor diagnosed shaken baby syndrome. The sitter was interrogated for three and a half hours and arrested. She got out on bail after being given a psychiatric evaluation. She began doing research and learned that serious reactions to vaccinations are not uncommon and can mimic shaken baby syndrome.

The criminal case ended with a plea bargain.

She founded a support group for people falsely accused of shaking babies.

0146:  An aunt babysitting the 3-week-old baby on a Saturday in May noticed he was extremely fussy, had difficulty with bowel movements, and screamed in pain when she changed his diaper. On Sunday the parents picked him up. He projectile vomited after being given his bottle. Monday, the baby repeatedly vomited and was taken to his pediatrician, who diagnosed the flu and took X-rays, which revealed nothing unusual. Tuesday, the baby seemed pale, limp and lifeless. Late in the day, the mother said he started to “twitch” and foam at the mouth. He was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed as suffering from a brain injury and a broken leg, secondary to shaken baby syndrome. The child was placed in custody for a few weeks, then returned to his parents because police could not determine who injured him.

The doctor gave the baby his second set of immunization shots July 23, despite the fact that the baby was not well. Two days later, an ophthalmologist treating his retinal hemorrhages noted that he seemed healthy and content.

Upon their return home from the ophthalmologist, the father fed the child. The mother went downstairs for approximately 30-45 seconds to get a “burp” rag. On her return, she saw the father holding the baby, who was limp and gasping for air. He said the baby had made ‘bicycling” motions with his legs and had a seizure. The baby was rushed to the emergency room, blue, limp and barely breathing.

A pediatric critical care doctor initially diagnosed a spontaneous bleed, but later changed her diagnosis to shaken baby syndrome. A radiologist said that the new injuries were unrelated to the prior injuries. Prosecution experts said the baby must have been severely shaken between the morning doctor visit and the time he became unresponsive.

The mother testified that she did not believe the father, who she described as “one of the kindest and most gentle people I have ever met” and “an ideal father” had hurt the child either time. He had no history of violence. She believed the aunt, who they subsequently learned had a history of child abuse with her own children, had harmed the child, and that the subsequent medical issues were caused by seizures and immunizations or were sequelae from the earlier injuries. Her parental rights were terminated because she was considered unable to protect her child or to provide a healthy and safe environment. Proceedings were begun to remove a two-year-old daughter from the home as well.

The aunt was not called as a witness at the trial. The father was convicted of first degree assault and sentenced to 7 years. Both children were removed from the home. Three of the jurors worked at the hospital from which the prosecution experts hailed.

An appeal was unsuccessful.

0147:  The defendant, a 6’7”, 275 lb. former university offensive lineman, said the 4-year-old daughter of his girlfriend had complained of a headache. He told police he gave her Advil and sent her to bed. When he went to check on her, she was trying to vomit but could not. He attempted to give her CPR and later shook the girl in order to aid her.

The girl died two days later. The county coroner said the cause of death was shaken baby syndrome and he was arrested. Bond was $50,000.

When he plea bargained to involuntary manslaughter, he said tearfully, “I did act inappropriately. I did shake the baby.”

He was sentenced to 7 years in prison.

0148:  The father, who was unemployed, took care of the 3-month-old baby while the mother worked. He told investigators he found his daughter dead when he checked her after taking a shower. The child died of asphyxia, lack of oxygen. Doctors found three broken ribs in different stages of healing, brain hemorrhaging they said was consistent with shaking, bruises and a foot that appeared to have been burned with a cigarette lighter.

The state troopers closed the case as lacking evidence for any kind of charge, but the coroner pursued the matter. A grand jury indicted the father for second degree murder and assault. The mother was indicted for not protecting her child. The state agreed to drop charges against the mother in exchange for her testimony against the father.

Troopers then revealed that an investigator who helped interrogate the defendant erased the only tape of the questioning after the case was reopened. Investigators had also failed to inform him of his rights and used improper interview techniques. The judge threw out the case, calling it one of the most bungled investigations he had ever seen.

The prosecutor obtained a second indictment from the grand jury without the inadmissible interview but the judge dismissed that one, too. He said the prosecutor improperly told the jury that the man’s failure to explain his daughter’s death to friends and family was evidence of guilt.

Thinking they could not make the case for murder, the prosecutor got a third indictment for assault. The final outcome is not known.

0149:  The mother was home with the defendant, 25, when the child became unresponsive. The baby had two seizures during the subsequent medical examination, which revealed serious brain injuries and extensive bruising on the face, neck, back and chest. X rays showed 21 rib fractures.

The defendant said he took a plea bargain because there was no way to prove who harmed the child. He was sentenced to one year in prison and 3 years probation.

0150:  The baby’s stepfather, 24, watched the child while the mother worked. The mother told police she checked on her year-old-son when she got home from work around 11:10 p.m. He was sleeping and appeared fine. She checked again at 4:00 a.m. When she checked again at 7:00 a.m., he was moaning and wouldn’t wake up. She took him to the hospital, where shaken baby syndrome was diagnosed.

The stepfather was arrested, charged with murder, and held on $100,000 bond. He was accused of throwing the toddler head-first onto the ground after the child refused to eat.

The maternal grandmother said, “I’ve never seen the kid [defendant] get angry. He lived in my house for two months last summer and I had no reason at all to be concerned.” A family friend also said she had never seen him behave violently.

Eight months after the incident, he pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

The mother was also charged, and was convicted by a jury of involuntary manslaughter for failing to protect her son and delaying medical care. The couple had smoked marijuana the night before the baby’s collapse. Said the prosecutor in her case, “The evidence was clear, she knew her child was injured and didn’t get help for him.” She wept as she was sentenced and said, “I apologize...for not realizing what was going on.” She was sentenced to 10 years.

0151:  A year before the baby in question died, the father and mother were investigated in the near-death of another child, aged 5 months at the time. That baby turned blue and stopped breathing for several seconds and was found to have broken ribs. No charges were filed because several people had access prior to the child’s collapse. The baby was returned to the parents.

About 10 days before the subsequent incident, the mother returned to work, leaving the father in charge of child care.

On Father’s Day, both parents were home. They said their 2-month-old daughter seemed fine when she went down for a nap on the living room couch at about 1:00 p.m. The mother went to the bedroom to rest and the father stayed in the living room with the children. About 2:15 p.m., according to the father, he noticed the baby had spit up and was not breathing. He told police he then “began shaking her real hard.” He said when his son had stopped breathing previously he had done that and it worked.

Paramedics were called and doctors found five new rib fractures and four that were more than a week old. The baby had bruises and a cut on her chin.

The defense maintained that the investigators “basically tossed a coin” to decide which parent to charge. Testimony in the trial indicated that the mother was depressed and had told others she had thoughts about hurting the baby. The mother was not called to testify, perhaps because the judge ruled that she could not be questioned about her mental health.

Jurors acquitted, saying they couldn’t be sure that the mother was not responsible. “You have two parents and one abused child,” said the jury foreman. You can’t make a judgment only hearing one side of the story. It’s almost like they were hiding the mother. Why?”

0152:  Police were called to the home about 11:00 p.m. after the defendant’s 7-month-old daughter stopped breathing. The father, 19, told police he fell asleep next to his daughter and woke to the sound of her gasping for air. He said he tried to pick her up, but accidentally dropped her. He also said he had bounced her on his knee earlier in the day to help her fall asleep.

Doctors said the injuries, including severe swelling on the left side of the head and brain and eye hemorrhages, indicated shaken baby syndrome. They also believed she had been struck on the left side of the head.

The baby died the next day.

The father was charged with second degree murder. He took a plea bargain and was sentenced to 5-20 years.

0153:  The mother said her 5-month-old son was sleeping peacefully when she left for about 20 minutes to get groceries. The defendant, her boyfriend, said he checked on the baby soon after the mother left and he was not breathing. A pediatrician had examined the infant earlier the same day and declared him healthy except for an earache. The boy survived for 12 years in a vegetative state.

The defendant, 29, claimed the baby was hurt accidentally three days earlier when he slammed on his brakes to avoid another car and the baby hit the dashboard. Doctors said his injuries were inconsistent with accidental trauma, and the defendant was the only one who could have inflicted them. The unique constellation of injuries, retinal bleeding, brain bleeding, and brain swelling, would have immediately rendered the boy unconscious, they said.

No child abuse charges were filed at the time. Twelve years later, when the child died, the defendant was charged with first degree felony murder.

The defense suggested that the mother, who battled drug addiction, may have had a hand in the baby’s death. They argued that it was wrong to prosecute the defendant after so long a time. The prosecutor said that at the time of the incident, shaken baby syndrome was a developing phenomenon, both medically and legally. “What needed to be proved about the onset of symptoms...was not well understood by police and prosecutors,” he said. That was why no charges were filed at the time.

The jury rendered a “guilty” verdict. The sentence was 5 years to life.

The defendant appealed, and the state Supreme Court found that the trial lawyers provided an ineffective defense. They failed to hire their own qualified medical expert to determine exactly when the baby was injured. They waited until the morning of trial to have a medical expert look at the CT scans, and that doctor was found by the judge to be unqualified to interpret those scans. The Supreme Court justices unanimously found that such counter-evidence could have swayed the jury enough to exonerate the defendant. He was granted a new trial.

The Attorney General’s office decided to close the case because of “insufficient evidence.”

0154:  The father, a 22-year-old unemployed tire-service worker, was alleged to have shaken the 5-week-old girl while her mother slept. The baby was found to have bleeding in the brain and eyes as well as swelling of the brain. A pediatric radiologist said that after reviewing the child’s X-rays, he was 95% certain she had been abused. There were fractures on the lower legs and a more recent injury near the left knee that could have been caused by the limbs flailing. He said he found no evidence of disease.

The defense lawyer said there was no way to tell from an X-ray whether injuries were intentional or accidental. The baby had been alarmingly ill in the days before she died. The baby had gone into shock at birth and required immediate care. Three days before the baby’s collapse, she slept more than usual and did not suck her bottle. Her limbs fell away from her body rather than curling up. She was crying more than usual.

On the day in question, the baby woke about 4:00 a.m. The mother gave her to the father to comfort and went back to sleep. He woke her at 9:00 a.m., saying the baby was not breathing. She was pale and lifeless and her lips were turning blue.

Many people attended the hearings in support of the defendant. The mother said the father was good with the baby. He was thrilled to have her and he never lost his temper with her.

After three days of testimony, including testimony by an expert on shaken baby syndrome, the defendant accepted a plea bargain. He pleaded no contest to second-degree manslaughter and received a sentence of six years. The jurors were shocked. They had been leaning toward acquittal. They contacted the defense lawyers, researched the medical literature and visited the defendant in jail. The defense lawyers then asked the judge to withdraw the plea. A hearing focused on the technical issue of whether the judge could legally withdraw the plea. At a second hearing, the judge announced he had the authority to withdraw the plea since his withdrawal had not yet been issued in writing. Several jurors turned out for each hearing.

Eighteen months later, the defendant admitted that he caused the death of his daughter. In an affidavit, he said that his judgment had been impaired by heavy marijuana use, and he had treated the girl roughly since her birth. In the ten days prior to her death, he said he would react to her crying by throwing her forcibly into the air as though she were a rag doll. On the morning of the incident, he threw her down on the couch “with great force.”

The jurors were surprised and disappointed. “At least we all know what happened now,” said one. “Otherwise, we would never have known.”

0155:  The defendant was caring for eight children, five of them her grandchildren. She said the 14-month-old baby, who was not a grandchild, fell while climbing furniture. He began making a gurgling sound. The sitter called her daughter, who took him to the hospital where a code blue was called. The baby died the next day. A doctor insisted it was shaken baby syndrome or shaken impact syndrome.

A police department investigator testified that she saw dust smudges on the second and fourth shelves of a bookcase. She also found a child’s plastic picnic table pushed against the 7-foot bookcase.

The defendant fled for five days, later saying she feared there was a warrant for her arrest in a theft case in which she failed to meet probation requirements. She was charged with capital murder.

The trial began a year to the day after the baby died. The prosecution’s expert witness had just finished writing a book about shaken baby syndrome.

When the sitter, a small woman, was apprehended, she was accused of having shaken the 28-pound toddler to death. She was initially charged with capital murder, then with knowing and intentional injury to a child under six resulting in death.

She ended up being convicted of reckless injury to a child and sentenced to the maximum 20 years. Her prior conviction for theft was a reason for the maximum sentence being imposed.

The parents had a large insurance policy on the child’s life.

0156:  The mother’s boyfriend, 26, rushed the 4-month-old baby to a hospital after the incident, passing a police officer along the way. The boy was quickly diagnosed with shaken baby syndrome.

He pleaded guilty to first degree felony injury to a child and received a 30 year sentence. To the family, he said tearfully, “There are no words I can say that will bring anybody any comfort. I want you to know that I am truly sorry. I never meant to hurt anybody. I’ve never hurt nobody in my entire life. I’ll never forgive myself ever, ever, for what I did. I’m sorry and I want you to know that I think I’m getting what I deserve.”

Before he was led back to jail, the baby’s grandmother said, “Forgive yourself.”

The baby survived but is handicapped.

0157:  The 5-month-old baby was barely breathing when his father arrived at the daycare. A doctor diagnosed shaken baby syndrome.

The sitter said she jostled the baby but did not shake him.

She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 5 years of probation, 10 days or more in jail, community service working with disabled children and adults, and restitution to the family. She must also undergo anger management classes.

The baby recovered.

0158:  The baby sitter frantically called 911, saying she had found the 18-month-old girl of family friends under a rocking chair gasping for air. “I came back in here and the rocking chair was on top of her,” she told the 911 operator. “I guess she tried to climb up in the rocking chair and fell back. ... She’s gasping for air.”

She later revealed she is bipolar and was not on medication at the time of the incident.

Doctors said there were no visible injuries but they suspected shaken baby syndrome.

Just prior to her capital murder trial, the defendant pleaded guilty. A jury sentenced her to 75 years. They considered the 911 tape key evidence to show that she had a calculated plan to lie to cover her misdeed.

The baby’s mother said she wanted to forgive, but could not. “Forgiveness for you,” she said, “will not heal the emptiness in my soul.”

0159:  The baby sitter dialed 911 and told a dispatcher that an 8-month-old girl was not breathing. Rescuers found the child blue and cold to the touch. She died the next day.

At first, the defendant told police she didn’t know what had happened. Later she said she’d tossed the child in the air while playing with her. Eventually she said she was frustrated because the child was crying and she shook her.

The sitter was pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, felony child abuse, and causing injury to a different child two years earlier.

She was sentenced to 10 years, six suspended, for the manslaughter charge, 10 years suspended on the felony abuse charge, and 12 months for the misdemeanor injury charge. She was also ordered to pay $100 each March for 10 years to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome.

A defense expert was to have testified that a minor injury on the day the child collapsed aggravated a more serious injury that could have occurred a week or two earlier.

0160:  The defendant, 23, knocked on a neighbor’s door at a barracks in Germany. He was holding his wet, naked stepson, who was gasping for air and unresponsive. The baby’s skin was grayish-blue. The neighbor went to get the baby’s mother while the defendant gave rescue breaths. By the time the mother and German ambulance arrived, the baby was responsive, crying and kicking.

Prosecutors maintained that the defendant changed his story several times. He told one doctor the boy went limp while he was being bathed. He told another doctor he’d already taken the child out of the bath, laid him on the floor, and left for a few minutes. When he came back he was ailing. An investigator said he said he had tripped while carrying the child in a car seat and the seat banged against a wall. He also said he’d seen the boy roll off a couch once.

A military panel deliberated for about 90 minutes before delivering a verdict of not guilty.

0161:  The mother had left her three children, including a 4-month-old baby, at a 12-year-old babysitter’s home before going to work Thursday. He called her Friday afternoon and told her the baby was not breathing. The mother initially told detectives that a man had been in the apartment while the 12-year-old was watching the children. That statement was found to be false.

The boy was living alone in a housing project because both of his parents were incarcerated.

A coroner said the baby’s autopsy revealed injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome.

The boy was booked on negligent homicide and the charge was later upgraded to manslaughter. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 months. He was prohibited from being in the presence of any child under the age of 10 years until he turns 18.

The mother of the child was also charged with a crime.

0162:  The 19-month-old girl had acute blood over the left side of the brain. Doctors used a needle to drain it.

Her father, 28, accepted a plea bargain. He lost his job as an airline pilot because of his plea but still wants to work to help his daughter and be part of her life. The defense attorney said he had an impeccable record but made a terrible mistake. He was sentenced to 20 years with 15 suspended and ordered to pay $500 a month to help his wife care for the child.

The baby survived but is handicapped.

0163:  The father, 21, told police the baby went into cardiac arrest as a result of a fall she suffered four days earlier. She had fallen on some steps, cut her gums, and suffered an allergic reaction to some medication. The child was taken to a doctor and released, but became limp three days later.

He ran next door to alert his mother-in-law and then called 911. He administered CPR, but the baby was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

The father was jailed for 15 months before charges were dropped. Prosecutors and the doctor who performed the autopsy weren’t convinced of his innocence, but did not think they could prove his guilt. The District Attorney said it was the only case he could recall where charges were dismissed prior to trial.

0164:  The father, a world-renowned professional skateboarder, woke to find his son’s lifeless body in bed. He called 911. Police responded to find him rocking the deceased boy in his arms.

The cause of death was listed as abusive head trauma. A pathologist testified that the baby had sustained fatal blows to his head within 48 hours of his death. Both the father and his girlfriend were heavily pierced and tattooed, and lived in a culture of drugs, alcohol, swearing, heavy metal music and anti-establishment rebellion, according to one reporter.

Months later, both the father and his girlfriend were arrested. Both were charged with murder. Both were convicted in the same trial, the father of involuntary manslaughter and the father’s girlfriend of second-degree murder. The jury determined that the father should have know his girlfriend was abusing the boy and had failed to protect him.

No one witnessed physical abuse, but witnesses had heard verbal abuse of the child by the girlfriend. The father testified that the baby was holding his head and saying “Ow” after his bath at 11:00 the day before his collapse. The child fell asleep at 4:30 that day and was found dead the following morning.

The trial lasted two weeks. The jury deliberated for less than eight hours.

The father was released from prison one and a half years after his conviction. The girlfriend was sentenced to 25 years to life.

0165:  The 2-month-old baby was with her teenage father Sunday in a home where he lived with several members of his extended family. The baby’s mother lived with her own family across town. On Monday the baby stopped breathing. She was resuscitated by paramedics but died hours later at the hospital.

Natural causes were ruled out. She had old bruises, a skull fracture, and severe bleeding in the brain. The father said the baby fell out of the high chair and stopped breathing.

The baby’s father was not arrested until several months had passed.

Prosecutors alleged the night the baby was injured, she was alone with her father in the basement.

Six and a half years after the baby died, the father was convicted of child abuse causing death, with a sentence up to life in prison.

0166  The mother’s boyfriend, 26, was caring for the toddler while her mother was at work. He called the mother distraught and said the 2-year-old girl had run into a door and banged her head, and the mother needed to rush home. The couple drove the unresponsive child to the hospital, where doctors found bleeding on her brain and in her eyes. They diagnosed shaken baby syndrome. Emergency brain surgery was performed, and the baby girl spent more than two months in the hospital. She is partially paralyzed on the right side of her body and has a seizure disorder.

The defendant was convicted of reckless injury and sentenced to 17 years.

0167  The babysitter, 18, told detectives that the 6-month-old baby began to cry while she was caring for him. She picked him up and tried to comfort him but he pushed away. She pulled him toward her, causing his neck to snap forward. She did this a second time according to the arrest report. She then lost her grip and dropped the child. He hit his head on a metal bed frame before landing on a concrete floor. She picked him up, placed him in a car seat, and rocked him until he went to sleep.

His cries later woke the sitter, who found him gasping for air. She tried to feed him, but he threw up. She told detectives she cleaned him up, rocked him in her arms, put him in his car seat and went into the kitchen. About 20 minutes later, she returned to find him pale with purple lips. She rushed to a neighbor and took the baby to the hospital.

Doctors found hemorrhaging in the brain, fractures to the skull, and blood in the spinal cord. They diagnosed shaken baby syndrome. The sitter was arrested and charged with manslaughter.

The sitter was convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison.

0168:  The defendant, 26, a mother of two from the Dominican Republic, told police that the 10-month-old baby stopped breathing after he fell out of a high chair onto a carpeted floor. She said when she picked him up, she tried to keep him awake, but she had no memory of shaking him.

Doctors said the injuries were inconsistent with her story and the cause was shaken baby syndrome. She was charged with involuntary manslaughter.

The baby’s mother refused to comment. “I don’t know what to say, really,” she said. “I think it would be better to let the courts decide if she was responsible.

The babysitter plea bargained and was sentenced a little more than 8 years in prison.

0169:  About 20 minutes after the baby’s mother left for a doctor appointment, the father, 23, called 911, telling the operator that his 3-month-old daughter had rolled off a couch onto a carpeted floor. When he picked her up she was limp and having trouble breathing.

Doctors found retinal hemorrhages and extensive bleeding in the brain. A doctor testified for the prosecution that retinal hemorrhaging is a classic sign of child abuse. It rarely occurs, he said, in accidental injuries.

During the first full day of the trial, two jurors were dismissed, leaving no backup jurors. One said shortly after testimony began that he knew someone from the defendant’s family. Another was dismissed because he became ill after lunch.

The judge had heated words for the defense attorney, saying comments made in front of the jury, such as “There is no such thing as shaken baby syndrome,” were inappropriate and that he was “treading very close to a mistrial.”

The case ended with a plea bargain to felony battery and a sentence of 20 years.

Five years after the initial incident, the baby was found unresponsive in her bed. She was taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.

0170:  The father, 26, said he took his 11-week-old son upstairs and left him in a car seat next to the futon where he and the baby’s mother were sleeping. The child started crying at 3:00 a.m. The defendant tended to her and placed her on the futon with them. The child was found unresponsive at 8:00 the next morning. There were five adults in the house when patrolmen arrived. No one had any explanation or had seen any abuse.

The mother told investigators that the family had done research and concluded that a DPT shot triggered an allergic reaction that caused the baby’s brain to swell and fracture the skull.

Doctors disagreed. The autopsy showed healing rib fractures, a 2 1/2 inch skull fracture on the left side of his head, a tear in the brain and bruising on the inside of the scalp.

A grand jury concluded that the defendant killed the baby by forcibly shaking him and slamming him down or hitting him on the head.

A district judge dismissed the homicide charge against the defendant, saying prosecutors didn’t present enough evidence to tie the man to his son’s death. He later said it was the first time he had ever taken such a step in a homicide case.

The defendant was re-arrested later the same day, but the case lay dormant for four years. The defendant was charged a year after the case was re-opened. A chief medical examiner from another state testified for the defense that he believed the baby suffocated when one of the parents rolled over on him in bed.

Family members testified that they never saw the father get frustrated or angry with the baby and never saw him hit his son. “He’s one of the best father’s I have ever seen with a child,” said the defendant’s mother.

In the end, a jury acquitted the father, who wiped tears from the corners of his eyes and smiled at his pregnant wife and supporters.

0171:  The defendant, a teenage father, told investigators the 2-month-old girl’s head hit the bathtub when he pulled her quickly out after getting water in her eyes and nose. He called his wife at work, telling her something was wrong. His wife, his mother, and the police chief arrived to find that the infant appeared to be fine.

A short time later, however, the defendant called his mother to tell her the girl was not breathing. He said he had stepped outside to smoke and he heard a faint cry. When he went back inside, the baby was breathing funny. He ran outside screaming that she was not breathing.

During questioning by investigators, he admitted to shaking the baby in an attempt to revive her. An autopsy report concluded she died from a blow to the head.

Six months later, the defendant accepted a plea bargain that reduced the charge from second-degree murder to manslaughter. The judge sentenced him to 40 years hard labor, the maximum sentence. The young man’s family members sobbed while the mother’s family jumped up and down, applauded and cheered. The judge ordered disrupters to clear the courtroom and hallway, and threatened them with incarceration if they did not adhere to courtroom protocol. The defense attorney was also escorted from the courtroom. An altercation later occurred between the two families in the courthouse parking lot, but did not result in any injuries or arrests.

0172:  The boy’s mother said the baby was fine when she left him at day care at 7:15 a.m. The baby was found unresponsive with labored breathing when police arrived just before noon after receiving two 911 hang up calls.

The sitter, 26, told police she had been changing the baby’s diaper when he went limp.

Doctors concluded that the only individual present during the period of time immediately preceding the unconscious condition was the defendant. The severity of the injuries, they said, would have led to unconsciousness immediately after the shaking incident.

The sitter accepted a plea bargain to manslaughter, with a 1-20 year sentence rather than a 20 years to life sentence. A presentence investigation report showed that she had no prior criminal history. A voluminous number of letters were written on behalf of her or the family of the child. The probation officer determined that probation would be inappropriate.

An appeal was unsuccessful. Justices ruled that the plea of no contest was equivalent to a plea of guilty. Her sentence was set at 10-15 years.

0173:  The father pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of his 1-month-old daughter, who had died with bleeding on the brain, swelling and bleeding in the eyes, and healing rib fractures. Doctors said the girl died from shaken baby syndrome and the father was responsible.

He accepted a plea bargain, but maintained his innocence. He said he took the plea to keep his family together. Supporters filled the courtroom. “He’s a wonderful father,” said his wife. “He loves his daughters.” Two pastors and others pleaded for leniency.

The judge said the case was flawed from the start. It had taken four years for it to get to court. A homicide detective was disciplined for ordering the destruction of evidence by mistake.

The judge decided to give the defendant the benefit of the doubt. He said, “Everything in this courtroom is serious. I must grade this offense against all others I’ve seen in the past 40 years. There are factors here which overturn the presumption of prison.” He sentenced the father to 5 years probation.

The older daughter, aged 8, was returned to her parents.

0174:  The father, 22, said he accidentally dropped his 6-month-old son on his head when the baby arched his back and slipped out of his arms as he reached for a pacifier. Frantic when the baby lost consciousness and appeared not to be breathing, terrified that CPS would take the baby away, he said he picked him up and shook him, then started CPR. Finally, he called 911.

Doctors found bleeding in the eyes, damage to the spinal cord, and bruised lungs and heart. Investigators said the defendant’s story was inconsistent with the injuries.

The baby had been removed from the home twice before because of signs of abuse, including a broken leg at the age of 5 weeks.

The defendant accepted a plea bargain that reduced the murder charge to manslaughter. He was sentenced to 10 years.

The state’s Child Fatality Review Panel blasted DCF for poor management of the case, failures in communication, lack of proper supervision and oversight, and for allowing the child to return home before the parents were properly prepared to care for him.

0175:  During the 911 call, the defendant, 23, said the 10-month-old baby fell from a couch. Later, he said the baby was trying to pull herself up on the couch when she fell backward. Prosecutors maintained that his changing story indicated guilt.

The baby had fallen 40 inches from a crib onto her head two days before. Subsequently, she had been fussy. She had not eaten or slept normally. Prosecutors insisted the earlier fall was irrelevant because people don’t lose consciousness three days after an injury. A medical expert called by the prosecution said, “Timing of the injury happened at the time the level of consciousness changed. When you fall off a building, when do you get knocked out?”

After the baby fell, the defendant said, he picked her up and tried to calm her. He then sat her down but she fell over. She began “panting like a dog” with “very labored breathing” and he called 911.

The infant had subdural and retinal hemorrhages, as well as yellow bruises. The defendant’s story, said investigators, did not match the injuries observed, an indication of guilt. He was charged with felony child abuse. Investigators did not suspect or interview anyone other than the defendant.

Pediatric experts from Children’s Hospital testified that this was a “textbook example of a shaken baby.” A pediatric neurologist testified for the defense. She said she could not pinpoint the exact time of injury or be certain it was a shaken baby syndrome case.

After five hours of deliberation, the jury rendered a verdict of not guilty.

The baby recovered.

0176:  A 3-month-old boy was allegedly shaken by his father, 24, who was frustrated by his crying. Despite numerous medical conditions, the baby lived nearly two more years before succumbing to a fatal lung disease caused by brain injuries that impaired his cough reflex.

The mother said she was unfamiliar with the signs of shaken baby syndrome and did not know what was wrong with her child. She was concerned about his vomiting, but others told her she was overreacting. Relatives thought the baby was being “cute” when he fluttered his eyes and appear to smile when sleeping. Only later did they realize he was having seizures.

The defendant was convicted of child abuse. His wife divorced him. When a parole date was set prior to the baby’s death, she started a campaign to keep him in prison. She kept the baby’s ashes in a tiny wooden urn.

When the child died two years later, the charges were upgraded to child abuse homicide and his parole date was rescinded. The defense attorney argued this was double jeopardy, but the judge allowed prosecutors to proceed. The case was expected to be appealed on the double jeopardy issue.

The father entered a “Sery Plea” to the upgraded charge. This is a type of plea that allows a defendant to appeal a guilty plea. The sentence was 1-15 years.

0177:  The baby sitter, 18, was watching a 5-week-old baby and two siblings in the parents’ home. She was living with them at the time but the parents weren’t home when the baby collapsed.

Said the prosecutor, “There was a head injury that was the result of some violent shaking. I’m hesitant to use the term ‘shaken baby’ but I think we’ll show that’s what we’re looking at.”

More than a dozen members of the sitter’s family showed up in court to support her. She was held on $250,000 bond.

The outcome of this case is not known.

0178:  A crying 8-week-old boy was with his father, 26, for just ten minutes while the mother showered. When the crying stopped suddenly, the mother called out for the father to bring the baby to her. She could see something was wrong. The baby was limp and breathing shallowly. She called her own mother and then 911.

Doctors found a brain hemorrhage and retinal bleeding in one eye. The baby was having seizures. A burr-hole relieved pressure on his brain. Old blood in the brain raised suspicions that the child had suffered an earlier assault.

A few days, later, after the parents were informed the baby had been diagnosed with shaken baby syndrome, the father admitted to a social worker that he was responsible for his son’s injuries. He said he lost patience, picked him up, and shook him for about 30 seconds.

The baby recovered fully. The father pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 months.

0179:  The father, 27, told police that the day before the child stopped breathing in a movie theater, he had been cleaning house. He had accidentally tripped and fallen on the child, and the baby began breathing erratically. He called a doctor who told him “everything was all right.” The child swallowed only 2 ounces of formula, given by eyedropper, in the subsequent 24 hours, but otherwise appeared to be fine.

The following day, the family traveled to another state to visit grandparents. The baby collapsed in a movie theater. His grandmother tried to save him by doing CPR but in vain.

An autopsy found severe bleeding around the infant’s brain. When the father learned of the autopsy results, he said it was true that he fell on the baby, but afterwards he had held the infant by his foot. His head hit a door jamb. He then threw him through the air about 8 feet to a bed where he bounced five or six times. According to police, he said he did not mean to do it. He just lost control.

He was arrested, charged with child abuse resulting in death, and held on $150,000 bond. The case ended with a plea bargain and he was sent to prison.

0180:  The couple’s first baby had been born with a chromosome disorder called trisomy 18. He had died five days after birth. The next pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage. The third pregnancy went to term. For the first 65 days of his life, the baby boy seemed to be doing fine.

One Saturday, he began projectile vomiting for no apparent reason. He had no fever. The next day, a Sunday, he projectile vomited in a store. The pediatrician’s office was not open, so they called a University Medical Center. A nurse practitioner told them it was probably a stomach bug and suggested Pedialyte. After they got home, the baby vomited again and they rushed him to an emergency room. Doctors could find nothing wrong. On Monday, they took the child to his pediatrician. An ultrasound of the baby’s stomach revealed nothing. Overfeeding was suggested as a possibility.

Tuesday evening, the father drove his wife to her job. The 10-week-old baby, who had not vomited in more than 36 hours, was in the back seat. A co-worker saw him and testified he looked fine at the time.

When questioned, the father said he had been on the computer when the baby awoke crying. He went to fix him a bottle. The baby suddenly stopped crying and the father checked to find him not breathing, with yellowish liquid coming out of his mouth. He picked him up and patted him on the back. He administered CPR and the baby began taking gasping breaths. He drove the baby at high speed to the hospital. The baby stopped breathing again. Soon after his arrival at the hospital, the baby was pronounced dead. The doctor found a bruised and bleeding brain as well as ruptured blood vessels in the eyes. He diagnosed blunt force trauma. “No ifs, ands or buts.”

The fact that the father drove his son to the hospital rather than calling 911 was considered an indication of guilt. The fact that the father seemed stoic and didn’t cry was considered an indication of guilt.

Two investigators interviewed the father about his son’s injuries but the police interview ended abruptly when the father asked for a lawyer.

The trial was repeatedly postponed, time after time, for three years.

The forensic pathologist who had diagnosed shaken baby syndrome died. Another pathologist who had been conducting a different autopsy in the same facility became the chief witness. He reviewed the evidence, fully expecting his findings to be consistent with those of the doctor who conducted the autopsy.

He reviewed the tissue slides preserved from the autopsy and made a surprising discovery. The surface of the brain above the wounds was not affected. It began to appear the baby had a stroke. Eventually, he concluded that the baby had had multiple strokes, perhaps even while in the womb.

The clincher was a test for amyloid beta precursor protein. The protein is generally present in shaken baby cases, but it wasn’t in this baby’s brain. Said the pathologist: “What was very helpful in this case is that it was clearly negative. There was no evidence on the microscopic level that there was a diffuse shearing injury to the brain. Neither was there brain edema.”

The father had said all along that he had administered CPR before taking the baby to the hospital. Doctors concluded that could account for the retinal bleeding.

The autopsy report was amended to read “natural causes” instead of “homicide” and charges were dropped. The prosecutor said never before had something like this happened. His solid first-degree murder case had crumbled into dust, just three days before the trial was to have begun.

In the meantime, the defendant lost his son, his marriage, a hoped-for career in law enforcement, and numerous friends. Even after he was cleared, the mother and her family, who had come to believe he was guilty, were not convinced of his innocence. “Two and a half years they led us to believe the baby was beaten to death, and all of a sudden, now it’s natural causes. Why didn’t the DA get more than one opinion?”

The mother had divorced him because he refused to admit guilt and seemed remorseless.

0181:  According to the baby’s birth records, doctors made multiple attempts to deliver him with forceps and a vacuum extractor. There were external injuries, but doctors did not examine the child’s head until he began having seizures and breathing problems 3 months later. Although there were no bruises, broken bones, or neck damage, the father was charged with two counts of abuse. The boy lived but has developmental disabilities.

The father had no known history of violence. He turned down two plea bargain offers. At trial, the father was acquitted of shaking his son violently on the first occasion, but convicted of felony child endangerment for shaking him three days later. This was despite the fact that a medical expert hired by the county to offer a second opinion said he did not believe it was a child abuse case.

The father had served almost five years of a seven-year sentence when the case was appealed on the basis of changing science regarding shaken baby syndrome. According to one defense lawyer, “Evidence that used to have a scientific aura has now been disproved. Just because we can’t pin it down medically doesn’t mean we should put a man in prison.”

The appeals court affirmed the verdict.

A year after the appeal, a county commissioner complained about “what appears to be a pattern to suppress access to information” in two child abuse cases, including this one. He criticized an assistant prosecutor for persuading a judge to seal the baby’s medical records in this case, saying, “The medical records are at the core of this case, and to shut those records off from public scrutiny is just wrong.” He was concerned that some of the records “actually are contrary to the conclusion reached at the indictment.”

The baby’s mother wants the records to remain open, saying, “Anyone who knows what they’re talking about and looks at the records would see the inconsistencies. Five different doctors say five different things about the timing and the type of injuries. I think [the prosecutor] doesn’t want anyone to know that.”

0182:  The babysitter, 13, was watching a 19-month-old baby and her 5-year-old sister while the mother, a friend of the family, went to the grocery store. She called 911 after the baby “suddenly” collapsed and would not response.

She admitted that she had “wiggled” the baby to get her to stop crying. Once was while the parents were in the house. She said she was washing the baby’s hair when she began to squirm and kick. She admitted to grasping the child by her ribcage and shaking her “once” according to the police report. Police believe the back of the toddler’s head struck a unit built into the wall.

Soon afterward, the sitter said, the child began to act differently. She appeared listless and had trouble standing up. She went right to sleep.

Later, the sitter heard her crying from another room and went to comfort her. After about five minutes, she shook her to get her to stop crying, according to police. Then the baby made a choking noise. The sitter reported a short fall as well.

An autopsy showed that the baby had brain damage, bruising, and internal bleeding.

After she was charged, the young teen was released with an electronic monitoring device and an order to stay away from all children except her siblings.

Investigators maintain that the girl knowingly waived her Miranda rights. She was isolated for a day and a half, during which time she was interrogated up to 10 times by different people and was told that she killed the baby. She asked to see her parents but was denied.

The bench trial aired live on Court TV and the case was the subject of a 48 Hours Mystery investigation. The defense argued that her “confession” was coerced using interrogation tactics intended for adults. They also argued that the defendant’s small size would have made it difficult for her to fatally shake and injure the 19 month-old toddler.

The judge dismissed the charges with prejudice after ruling that the police interviews, including a videotaped statement, were inadmissible. The judge was not impressed with a detective’s “mantra-like insistence” that the girl was not a suspect when he interviewed her. She clearly was. The baby’s parents were not questioned for a week.

“The truth was suppressed,” said the baby’s great aunt. “It’s absolutely disturbing that someone who has admitted hurting a child could be let off on a technicality.”

“The bottom line is that there is a 19-month-old girl and she’s dead and she’s never coming back. Somebody needs to be held accountable.”

After she became an adult, the babysitter sued the police department for the improper questioning of her as a child and won.

0183:  The defendant, 39, was a day care provider for the 5 1/2-month-old child. At 3:00 p.m., she called the mother saying the baby boy was in a swing in the living room and his body had become rigid, but that now the child seemed fine. The father picked him up about two hours later. The baby was cranky and unresponsive. His eyes would not open. The pediatrician was called and then 911.

At the hospital he was diagnosed with shaken baby syndrome. He had a subdural hematoma and retinal bleeding. He lived but was impaired.

The sitter, who had no prior record of any problem in caring for children, accepted a plea bargain. When asked in court why she shook the baby, she said, “He was very fussy. I couldn’t calm him down, so I shook him.” She was sentenced to 2.5 years, with 18 months to serve, plus 10 years probation, 3 of which must be supervised. She was forbidden to have contact with children other than her own.

0184:  The baby girl was born almost two months premature to a mother who had been told she couldn’t have children. She died exactly two years after her parents brought her home from the hospital.

An day-care provider said the baby had fallen from a crib and hit her head on a carpeted floor. She had put the baby into a crib and turned to leave when she heard a thump and ran back in and found the baby on her back, eyes closed. Officers and doctors initially reported her injuries were accidental. After the child died, doctors said the injuries were too severe to have been caused accidentally.

The babysitter was questioned, but the prosecutor did not think there was sufficient evidence to file charges. The medical examiner initially found no signs of retinal hemorrhaging. Later in the autopsy report, multiple retinal hemorrhages were reported. The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.

Although criminal charges were not filed, the parents filed a $1 million civil suit, alleging they were “deprived of [the baby’s] comfort, companionship, society and services.”

The parents refused to remove the baby’s belongings from their condominium. Her high chair remained in the kitchen and her toys in the closet. They celebrate her birthday every year as though she’s still alive. “The hardest part is when people ask us how many children we have,” said the father. “We don’t know what to say.”

0185:  The sitter, 31, is a native of Beijing, China. She and the baby’s family were close friends and former co-workers. The baby’s mother dropped her 9-month-old daughter at the sitter’s in the morning. The sitter’s year-old daughter was the only other person in the house.

According to the sitter, the baby was “really irritable” that day and refused to eat. Two hours after arriving, the baby ceased breathing. She attempted to administer CPR and called 911. At the hospital, the child underwent emergency surgery to relieve pressure on her brain. Two days later she died.

The death was ruled a homicide at autopsy. The baby had subdural hematoma, subarachnoid hemorrhage, and retinal hemorrhage. It was concluded that the only possible explanation was shaken baby syndrome. “The nature of her injury is such that she would have immediate, profound neurological symptoms,” wrote the doctor. “She would not have appeared awake, alert and normal after the injury.... [There are] no natural medical causes for these types of bleeding. Resuscitation efforts by rescue personnel could not have caused the injuries. ... [The baby] was the victim of an assaultive head injury and the assailant was the last adult with her immediately before the onset of her symptoms.”

The district attorney said it was “one of the worst attacks on a child ever seen” in the county.

Based on those conclusions, the sitter was arrested and charged with second degree murder. Her bail was set at $5 million because she was considered a flight risk.

The baby’s father said he never saw anything to indicate a problem. He never saw her mistreat the baby or her own child. “She’s a loving mother. That’s why we trusted her,” he said. A string of witnesses at her bail hearing described her as a very caring, gentle person who had never raised her voice or been abusive to anyone. All described her as great with children and exceptionally patient.

The Chinese community rallied behind the defendant and support grew as time passed.

0186:  The baby’s father, 25, called 911 to request medical help for his 4-month-old son. Doctors diagnosed shaken baby syndrome.

The baby’s mother insisted that the injuries were the result of a bad reaction to vaccinations. “My son is not a victim of child abuse,” she said. “If anything, my son is a victim of medical negligence and ignorance.”

The defendant maintained his innocence throughout. He accepted an Alford plea to unlawful wounding because of the risk of a long prison sentence if convicted. He was sentenced to 5 years with 3 suspended.

The baby survived in a permanent vegetative state.

0187:  The babysitter, a 26-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico, found the 6-month-old baby she was watching unconscious and believed she had suffered a seizure. She said she shook her in an attempt to revive her.

Doctors diagnosed shaken baby syndrome and initially reported both old and new injuries. Later, only new injuries were reported. A police report says she initially admitted shaking the baby when she wouldn’t stop crying. Later, the report says, she said that she shook the girl to try to revive her after she inexplicably suffered a seizure, her eyes rolling back and her lips turning blue. The baby had had an extremely high fever a few weeks before. The baby was left with permanent brain damage but had no external bruising or other injuries.

Jurors convicted and sentenced her to eight years in prison. The judge, a Mexican American, expected the defense attorney to present a defense, to answer obvious questions, to rebut the prosecution’s evidence. But the attorney did no cross-examination. He called no witnesses. There were CPS records that favored her, old as well as new blood in the brain, and no bruising or broken bones. The judge seriously doubted her guilt and told jurors he disagreed with their verdict. He conducted research into shaken baby syndrome on the Internet and called an ex-roommate who was a doctor asking about the signs of shaken baby syndrome. He freed the defendant on her own recognizance pending the result of appeals.

The judge was strongly criticized for conducting his own research. He said, “I did the research I would have expected the defense attorney to do. I did more research than the lawyer. I don’t apologize for that.” The District Attorney’s office petitioned to have him removed from the case and asked all prosecutors to report any misconduct or perceived misconduct by the judge. He voluntarily removed himself from the case after he was advised to do so by his lawyer and as a result of this incident, lost his race for re-election.

A new judge ordered the defendant to remain in jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.

The judge faulted both prosecutors and defense attorneys. The Mexican government hired a defense lawyer who did not speak the language and did not call an expert witness to support her position. The judge stated that had he not understood Spanish, the defendant would have been on her way to the pen without recourse. Words like shiver, chills, seizures and convulsions were all translated to mean the same. “There is something very wrong with this picture,” said the judge. “For me to sit idly by makes me part of the problem. The system failed [this defendant].”

The defendant was granted a new trial, with a risk of receiving a far longer sentence if convicted. In her second trial, the jury found her not guilty of the most serious charges. They found her guilty of the least serious charge of negligence, and recommended that she be deported.

The defendant spent two years in jail awaiting trial. During that time, she gave birth. Her baby was immediately taken away and until her release, she never held him.

Said the first judge, “There was no better feeling than when that jury came back with a ‘not guilty’ verdict.” He is now a defense attorney. “As a prosecutor,” he said, “your job is to seek justice, not convict people. It starts from the top and works its way down.”

0188:  The babysitter, 36, was accused of felony abuse of a year-old child she was watching after she took the child to the hospital. Because her husband was a state highway patrolman, the case was prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office, who said the child’s injuries were consistent with having been shaken.

From the beginning, she denied the accusation. “I would never hurt that baby. I loved her. I mean, I took care of her from the time she was little bitty, just barely born, up until that time. I mean, she was like my own child. She took her first steps in this room.” The baby girl recovered completely from her injuries.

Neither DFS nor any police investigator ever visited the home of the sitter. “At first I was just terrified. Completely terrified,” she said. “I would just sit on my couch and look out the window and think the police were going to come get me.” She was sent two letters over a 9-month period and over a year later, without warning, police came with a warrant for her arrest. She was accused of “knowingly inflict[ing] cruel and inhuman punishment upon [the baby] by shaking her, and in the course thereof...caus[ing] serious emotional injury.”

A Frye hearing was held two and a half years after the incident. After hearing testimony from experts on both sides, the judge said that the SBS triad-based diagnosis “appears to have gained considerable acceptance...among pediatricians.... However, there is substantial, persistent and continuing criticism of this diagnosis among many in the medical and scientific research communities.” The court concluded that state failed to prove that SBS is generally accepted in the scientific and medical communities. The state was thereby precluded from offering testimony that the baby had been violently shaken based on the demonstrated symptoms of subdural bleeding, retinal bleeding, and cerebral edema.

Four years after the baby’s collapse, a jury took just 30 minutes to find the sitter not guilty.

She researched Shaken Baby Syndrome and shares information with people around the world who are going through a similar experience. She wrote, “There are many of us out here who have been falsely accused. Some of us have been cleared, some haven’t. Those of us who haven’t are just waiting, not knowing what our future holds. I wonder many times what it’s going to take for doctors and laypeople to realize that there can be many reasons for injuries like this, not just child abuse.”

0189:  The defendant, 18, a live-in boyfriend of the baby’s 34-year-old mother, had called the mother just 20 minutes before the child collapsed. She testified she heard “happy baby noises” in the background at that time.

The defendant told the 911 operator he had laid down for a nap with the baby on the same bed. When he awoke, the baby was lying next to him “limp and unresponsive” with no heartbeat. Rescue personnel arrived in minutes and transported the child to the hospital, where he was revived but died ten days later after being taken off life support.

Doctors found bleeding in the retina, bleeding in the brain, and swollen head size from excess fluid in the brain. The teenager asserted his innocence when questioned.

Five months after the event, he was charged with two counts, each reflecting a different prosecution theory of the case: unpremeditated murder and felony murder, meaning he committed the murder while committing the crime of first-degree child abuse. He made bail ($450,000) but was picked up for violating the conditions of his bail by calling the infant’s mother. He was thereafter held without bail.

Two and a half years after the baby’s death, the defendant pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and the felony murder charge was dismissed. He was sentenced to 40 years with 22 years suspended.

At his sentencing, he said to the mother, “I am sorry for what happened that day. It was a tragedy. There were a lot of good people hurt, and if I could, I would give my own life to bring peace to your life.”

Responded the mother, “You are a monster, and you made a conscious decision to do what you did.”

0190:  The baby’s mother said she left her 9-month-old son with her live-in boyfriend, 20, when she went to work. At midnight, the baby stopped breathing, had a seizure, and was rushed to the hospital. Under questioning, the man admitted to gently shaking the child because he was unresponsive. “I shook him but I didn’t abuse him,” he said at trial. “I didn’t do anything wrong.” Prosecutors called that a lie because of the severity of the brain damage.

A doctor at Children’s Hospital determined there were old and new injuries, brain swelling, retinal hemorrhaging and swelling in the neck. The only external injuries were bruising to the ears which appeared the day before the incident. The doctor proposed violent shaking as the cause and said the shaking would be “so violent, the person there would know the shaking would cause injury to the child.” The child survived but is handicapped. The young mother gave up the child to foster care.

The prosecutor said if the jury believed the undisputed medical evidence from the only doctor in the case, it was enough for a conviction. The days leading up to the incident didn’t matter, he said, only the “minutes before that call to 911 because the symptoms occur immediately after the injury.” The old brain injury didn’t matter, he said, because it was the new injury that caused the brain damage. “The only time the injury could have occurred was when [the baby] was with him. That little boy deserves justice and justice is finding [the defendant] guilty,” he concluded.

The jury was deadlocked during the entire first day of deliberations, but the following morning, after less than an hour, they returned a verdict of guilty of injuring a child with intent to cause serious bodily injury or mental deficiency. The sentence was ten years probation.

0191:  Prosecutors alleged that the sitter, a 32-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico, became frustrated with a 5-month-old baby boy and shook him. He had been dropped off at her home about 5:30 a.m. When he awoke, she said, he was unresponsive and didn’t appear coherent. She took him to a clinic and was told he needed to go to the emergency room immediately. From there, he was taken to Children’s Hospital where shaken baby syndrome was diagnosed.

Prosecutors allege the baby was crying, as was her own one-year-old son. Her 6-year-old son was complaining of hunger. (She had six children, aged 1 to 13.) Detectives said she admitted to losing her temper and shaking the infant, who then struggled to breathe and his body became tense and rigid. .

Defense lawyers maintained that someone else who cared for the child could have been responsible for the massive head trauma that caused the death.

The jury voted to convict her of child abuse resulting in death.

Tearfully, through a Spanish-language interpreter, she told the sentencing judge she was sorry for the pain the baby’s family was experiencing. “But the same as the parents, I lost my kids, too, and I don’t know when I’m going to be with them again,” she said. “Your honor, my life is in your hands.”

Although the defendant had no criminal record, the judge said the crime was so serious that it warranted a lengthy sentence. She had already served 415 days in jail, which was credited against her 20 year sentence. An appeal was unsuccessful.

0192:  The mother, 23, was charged with capital murder in the death of her 6-month-old son, despite a history as an excellent and attentive mother who had not mistreated any of her children. “She was the one who was with the baby,” said Child Protective Services. “The father was not at the house.”

She told police the baby rolled off the bed while she was in another room and hit a nightstand. He was gasping for breath after the accident. She called her mother and husband before summoning rescue workers.

The medical examiner reported broken blood vessels in the child’s eyes, a fractured vertebrae, and skull hemorrhages.

The Gulf Region Advocacy Center (GRACE) stepped in to assist the defendant pro bono. The organization had been organized to support and provide quality legal representation to indigent persons charged with capital crimes in Texas and Louisiana. The focus is on preventing death penalty sentences at the trial level rather than appealing after the fact. Getting murder defendants good representation up front does more to deter death sentences than appellate work.

GRACE attorneys were able to demonstrate to the prosecution that a flawed autopsy report, which mistakenly exaggerated the extent of the injury to the child, led the medical examiner to erroneously conclude that the baby was intentionally injured.

The charges were dropped.

0193:  The couple had three foster children, all belonging to the father’s sibling, as well as three children of their own. The defendant, a stay-at-home dad, was accused of shaking a 6-month-old foster child for whom he and his wife were caring. His wife, a neonatal intensive care nurse in the unit to which the child was taken, was accused as well. The father was charged with felony assault, she with reckless endangerment. Their children were taken away and the husband’s bail was set at $75,000, the wife’s at $20,000.

The police officer said, “The child had symptoms of shaken baby syndrome...retinal hemorrhaging, swelling of the brain, lack of wanting to eat.” Police said the baby was picked up inappropriately, causing her head to be thrown forward.

According to the defense attorney, they were a “sterling family, solid in the community, never any problems at all, family-oriented people.”

No record of further proceedings was publicized, but two years after the incident, the mother was disciplined by the nursing board for having been convicted of Endangering the Welfare of a Child. The nursing board penalized her with a two year stayed suspension, two years probation and a $500 fine.

0194:  The 7 1/2-month-old infant and his mother stayed with her boyfriend overnight on a Saturday. She got up to get a bottle Sunday morning and heard the baby scream “like nothing [she] had ever heard.” Clearly something was wrong with him. They rushed him to a nearby hospital, from which he was taken to Children’s Hospital. He lapsed into a coma and died.

The father was arrested at the hospital and charged with aggravated child abuse, which was changed to first degree murder when the baby died. He asked for legal counsel and refused to give a statement. His family posted $100,000 bond to get him out of jail. Then detectives added more charges, including possession of marijuana. He posted another $3,500 bond.

Before trial, the judge threw out the charges, saying there wasn’t enough evidence for a conviction and the prosecution failed to provide proof of the time of the child’s death. Prosecutors, surprised, said, “I thought we had an airtight case. The doctor was ready to testify the child died from shaken baby syndrome.”

Officials were ready to take the case back to a grand jury, but a year passed and it didn’t happen. “Truthfully,” said a prosecutor, “the judge’s dismissal really put a dent in our case. It’s hard to convince a grand jury to take on a case when a previous judge has already dismissed it. ... We really need somebody who knows something about this to come forward. Any kind of new evidence could get this case going again.”

The baby’s father filed a civil lawsuit asking for $3 million in compensatory damages and $7 million in punitive damages. The defendant’s attorney filed a motion for summary judgment asking that the civil case be dismissed. “The plaintiffs have failed to allege or prove any evidence from which a jury could reasonably infer that [the defendant] committed any intentional act that caused [the baby’s] death.”

In the years after this incident, the defendant was charged with crimes relating to drugs and prostitution.

0195:  The baby’s father, 23, worked overtime as a janitor, took a full load of college courses, and suffered stress and sleep deprivation. Friends said he was tired all the time.

He told a police officer that he had shaken his 4-month-old son several times when he wouldn’t stop crying. The first time was January 22 when the baby awoke crying in the middle of the night. The next time was February 14 when the baby’s mother was in the shower. He said, “I was really going at it” and the baby’s head was jolting back and forth. “He was crying and that snapped him out of it,” he reportedly said.

Again on February 17, he said, the baby was crying when he tried to put him to sleep. The child reportedly vomited or showed signs of a seizure. A similar incident February 19 led to the injuries that prompted the couple to seek medical attention. The mother noticed the baby was breathing slowly and loudly. His eyes were rolled back and only slightly open.

The baby suffered from retinal and brain hemorrhages. The defendant was released on a signature bond and ordered to have no contact with the boy. He eventually accepted a plea bargain and was sentenced to 4 years, with 8 years extended supervision.

The baby recovered.

In an unusual occurrence, the judge accepted a joint recommendation from a new defense lawyer and a new district attorney the defendant nearly a year later and reduced his prison time to one year plus eleven years of extended supervision. The judge said she had a better understanding of the defendant’s character and the stresses he faced at the time.

The new sentence was based on the fact that the defendant accepted responsibility, showed remorse, and demonstrated commitment to improving his coping and parenting skills. The judge also considered evidence that information presented at the initial sentencing hearing was incorrect and the defense did not refute the testimony of prosecution witnesses, as well as numerous letters attesting to the defendant’s kindness and diligence.

0196:  The mother testified that the her 8-month-old son had suffered from seizures before but was doing better with medication. She had taken the baby to the doctor in January after finding a large clot of blood in his diaper. He had also had what she thought might have been a seizure while he was being bathed, but he returned to normal quickly and she thought it might just be a reaction to the water temperature.

The afternoon after seeing the doctor, the baby had a severe seizure. There was another episode later back in the doctor’s office. The doctor believed the problems were caused by a surge of hormones and the baby would grow out of it. He prescribed medication. In February, the mother learned that a hereditary disease might be causing his problems and she sought additional blood tests.

On the day in question, the mother was at work. She called her husband, 33, in the afternoon and suggested they take the kids to the park because it was such a beautiful day. The father said he went to get the child out of bed, but the baby started having a seizure when he picked him up. He went into a coma from which he never recovered. The baby was taken to the hospital, where doctors found a skull fracture, hemorrhages, and healing broken ribs. They diagnosed abuse.

The mother said she believed her husband was innocent. He denied harming the infant.

The jury took about 30 minutes to find the defendant guilty of murder, and an additional 20 minutes to return the maximum sentence, 99 years in prison. Prior to sentencing, the jury heard the father had previously been convicted of injury to a child in a different state.

The verdict was appealed all the way to the state Supreme Court, which affirmed it.

0197:  After four days of deliberation, the first trial, which was aired on Court TV, ended in a hung jury, with five voting for guilt and an even split, 6-6, on child abuse. The jurors were not convinced the baby died from shaking rather than a fall. Also, they were not convinced that someone with the babysitter’s good record of caring for children over a period of nine years was capable of doing what she was accused of doing. “All of us felt flat out that she did not kill the child,” said one juror who voted not guilty.

The prosecution contended that the defendant, a 53-year-old grandmother, was angry because the 6-month-old baby cried and would not take a nap. Paramedics summoned on the day in question found the child dying in her crib surrounded by vomit. The sitter said she had vomited and then gone limp. She called 911 immediately, she said. The autopsy report said the girl had been unconscious for at least two hours before she died and the defendant was accused of delaying a call to paramedics.

At first, the defendant denied the girl had fallen or been injured, but eventually said she had earlier fallen out of a high chair.

Jurors from the first trial supported her in the second trial and attempted to help raise money for her defense. A number of relatives, neighbors, and parents of other children she’d cared for also supported her. The defendant refused to plea bargain.

At the second trial, the defendant was convicted of felony assault after a day and a half of jury deliberation. “This child did not deserve what happened to her,” said one juror. “I feel justice was served.”

The defendant was sentenced to 25 years to life.

0198:  The 9-month-old baby suffered a seizure while at a home-based day care licensed for seven children. The defendant’s wife was allowed to continue to operate the day care as long as her husband stayed away.

The medical examiner diagnosed blunt trauma to the head, or shaken baby syndrome. Neither police nor prosecutors spoke to the suspect, 48, prior to his arrest or during the 16 months he sat in jail awaiting trial. He consistently maintained his innocence and had no prior criminal record.

Defense attorneys said the defendant, 48, was asleep in another room when the child fell ill. “Every witness that we talked to said he in no way had anything to do with this.” There were other people in the home when the child collapsed. One of them woke him to say the baby was ill and he called 911.”

Defense attorneys hired a private investigator and launched a full investigation.

On the day the first degree murder trial was set to begin, the prosecutor announced that charges were being dropped. He suggested that, while not exonerating the defendant, “at least one other individual could have been responsible” for the death. “It would be inappropriate for us to go forth with murder in the first degree.”

The judge told the man, “You are free to go.”

Later, he said he was not bitter. “Anybody can make a mistake.” He said his faith in God, family support, and knowledge of his innocence kept him from despair. “From day one, I knew I was innocent. I turned everything over to the Lord and let everything take its course.”

0199:  A grand jury indicted the defendant of first-degree criminal abuse. The only significant injuries were a subdural hematoma and retinal hemorrhages. There were no fractures, significant bruising, or evidence of impact.

The defendant filed a motion for a Daubert hearing on the admissibility of medical and scientific testimony. The court was requested to determine:

  1. The admissibility of medical and scientific evidence that manual shaking can cause subdural hematomas and retinal hemorrhage in infants.
  2. Whether SBS meets the Daubert criteria for admissibility as a scientific theory to explain the injuries to the child.
  3. The admissibility of evidence that subdural and retinal hemorrhaging in infants can only be caused by manual shaking.
  4. The admissibility of evidence that the symptoms of subdural hematoma and retinal hemorrhaging would be immediately apparent.
  5. The admissibility of opinions that the injuries of the victim are consistent with shaken baby syndrome.

The court ruled that a correlation does not imply cause and effect. While subdural bleeding and bilateral retinal hemorrhages are observed to be correlated with abuse, that does not mean they are invariably caused by abuse. Other indications of abuse must be present. “To allow a physician to diagnose SBS with only the two classical markers, and no other evidence of manifest injuries, is to allow a physician to diagnose a legal conclusion.”

Neither side was allowed, in this case, to call a witness to give an expert opinion as to cause, based on only the two symptoms of subdural hematoma and retinal hemorrhage.

The ruling was reversed two years later on appeal. The final outcome of this case is not known.

0200:  The father awoke and went directly into the bathroom to get ready for work. When he came out, his wife was holding their 4-month-old baby, who was crying. As he left for work, his wife told him the baby wasn’t breathing. They called 911. The father held the child until the ambulance arrived. The father testified that he had not observed anything wrong with the baby until his wife said the baby wasn’t breathing.

The baby had had recently been inoculated.

There were no visible signs of injury, trauma, or abuse to the child or any other of the couple’s children. The doctors found two subdural hematomas, a skull fracture, and retinal hemorrhages.

The mother admitted that she had dropped the baby on his head and hit him in the face with her hand. She also said she had squeezed him tightly. The father denied any knowledge of injuries or abuse.

DCF claimed the mother had committed the abuse and the father “knowingly failed to protect” the child. The mother was arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse.

DCF filed to terminate the rights of both parents, as siblings were deemed to be at substantial risk. The trial court terminated their rights. On appeal, the court determined that since there was no evidence that the father knew or should have known of the abuse, as there were no obvious symptoms, his parental rights should not be terminated. They were restored.

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Source:, ©Susan C. Anthony