Thursday, 24 February 2011

SIDS: Germany: Sexual abuse of own children

Feb 10, 2011, 14:48 GM

Koblenz, Germany - A 48-year-old man is due in court in western Germany next week on charges that he fathered eight children with a stepdaughter, abused a biological daughter and forced both into prostitution, one of the victims' lawyers said on Thursday.
The man, who has been in pre-trial custody since August 2010, is also accused of having abused a stepson, lawyer Katharina Hellwig told the German Press Agency dpa.
The family lived in the centre of Fluterschen, a village in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate with some 750 inhabitants.
Police arrested the man after the 28-year-old stepdaughter found a suicide note written by the 18-year-old daughter and forwarded it to youth welfare officials.
The suspect is married to the mother of the 28-year-old, said Hellwig, who represents the young woman. The man adopted both her and two sons from his wife's previous marriage.
The couple also had two children of their own, including the 18- year-old daughter.
Police say the unemployed man sexually abused her and two of his stepchildren between 1987 and 2010. The daughter and stepdaughter were allegedly also forced into selling sex to other men.
The eight children the man is additionally accused of having fathered with the stepdaughter were conceived between 1999 and 2009.
The first child, a boy, reportedly died a few weeks after his birth due to sudden infant death syndrome. All of the other children attended kindergarten and school in a neighbouring community, according to Hellwig.
The children and their 28-year-old mother no longer live in Fluterschen, she said.
A district court spokesman confirmed that the man is set to appear in court on Tuesday on charges of child abuse. Five hearing days have been set until the end of February.

SIDS: Cardiac arrest statistics in young persons

About 5,900 children 18 years old and under suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year from all causes - including trauma, cardiovascular causes and sudden infant death syndrome.
The incidence of out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest in high school athletes ranges from 0.28 to 1.0 deaths per 100,000 high school athletes annually in the U.S.

SIDS: Nebraska to change guidelines for death investigations

 February 14, 2011  SARAH SCHULZ

Death investigations and coroners’ exams in Nebraska are as varied by county as the deaths themselves.
County attorneys serve as coroners in Nebraska, and there aren’t training requirements established in state statute. But all that is changing because of recent statutes that call for the development of guidelines for uniform and quality death investigations statewide.
Hall County Attorney Mark Young said a subcommittee within the County Attorneys Standards Advisory Council is working on guidelines and training.
“It’s becoming more of an issue,” Young said.
His training for his work as county coroner has consisted of what he has received at seminars, including how to fill out death certificates, determining cause and manner of death and how to gather the necessary information. He believes it will be good to have established standards and he’s glad the Legislature didn’t mandate training without providing funding.
In Hall County, as with many other counties in Nebraska, law enforcement personnel are often the first emergency responders on the scene of an unattended death, homicide, suicide or accident. They are trained in collecting evidence, conducting interviews and investigating the cause of the death, he said. Young is called out to scenes where the cause of death could potentially be criminal.
The county attorneys are also allowed to deputize others to assist with coroner duties. In Hall County, that includes the deputy county attorneys working in Young’s office, he said.
The number of cases the county coroner is involved in each month varies “wildly,” Young said, but, as an example, he said his office signed 26 death certificates/cremation permits in January and ordered one autopsy. He is called out on death investigations as a coroner 15 to 20 times a year on average, but he signs a lot more death certificates that are related to natural causes or medical reasons.
The number of autopsies ordered by the Hall County attorney also varies. Young said he must balance the potential result and necessity with the $2,000 cost to the county. The county has a line item in the general fund for coroner-related expenses and he believed it was currently set at about $44,000. For homicide-related cases, Young tries to take the autopsy costs out of the law enforcement line item he has in his budget in order to “protect the other budgets.”
Autopsies are required by law when the deceased is younger than 19 unless the death was readily recognizable as disease or didn’t occur under suspicious circumstances. The cause of death can’t be certified as sudden infant death syndrome unless an autopsy, a death scene investigation and a review of the child’s medical history reveal no other possible cause, according to state statute.
Young said he orders autopsies when foul play is suspected or the cause of death can’t be determined through the investigation of other facts.
People can request a private autopsy if one has been ordered by the county coroner or law enforcement, and they may retain a pathologist to conduct one, if they choose, he said.
According to an interim study report on the standards and oversight of death investigations in Nebraska, compiled in January 2009 under LB276, the state has no oversight of the county coroner system. The control exists at a local level as county coroners develop their own course of action or policies for death investigations.
Coroners may choose to work with law enforcement to investigate a death. According to the interim study, they can perform the following coroner’s duties or have law enforcement do the same:
n Examine the body at the scene of death or the mortuary.
n Photograph, measure and diagram the scene.
n Collect and document potential evidence.
n Contact the physician of the deceased and obtain the person’s medical history.
n Interview witnesses, family, friends and others.
n Conduct tests on bullets and firearms for evidence.
Buffalo County Attorney Shawn Eatherton said that most of those tasks are left to law enforcement because county attorneys can’t be witnesses in cases that are prosecuted.
Eatherton is on the subcommittee that is working on guidelines and training for county coroners. The group hopes to establish procedures that result in consistency in duties while allowing for flexibility by count. Differences in population, demographics and geography will play into how investigations are conducted, he said.
However, there are certain things that must be looked at in every case, such as the examination of the body and the scene, and interviews with the deceased’s physician, he said.
Eatherton added that autopsies aren’t a “magic bullet” and all the facts of a case must be considered when determining the cause of death.
“Autopsies are just part of the whole picture,” he said.
The checklist being developed by the subcommittee will be an “if, then” list, meaning that if the coroner or law enforcement finds a certain fact, it should be followed by a particular course of action. For example, a fatal traffic accident requires blood draws from those involved, he said.
The state has requested that the guidelines include guidance in determining the need for autopsies, deaths of minors, deaths while in custody, suspicious deaths, entering a death scene, documenting the scene, examining the body, and establishing and recording information.
“The checklist is based on the facts,” Eatherton said. “I’ve looked at the coroners system and the medical examiners system in other states — there is no perfect system. I think we need a blended system to use all our expertise.”

SIDS: New York: Marybeth Tinning and multiple child deaths

  • Marybeth Tinning


    ALBANY -- In her most expansive interview to date, notorious child killer Marybeth Tinning told the state parole board last month she was a "messed up person" who smothered her 4-month daughter with a pillow because she feared the infant would die.
    "After the deaths of my other children ... I just lost it," Tinning told the board Jan. 26. "(I) became a damaged worthless piece of person and when my daughter was young, in my state of mind at that time, I just believed that she was going to die also. So I just did it."
    Tinning, 68, formerly of Schenectady, is serving 20 years to life at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County for killing her daughter, Tami Lynne, on Dec. 20, 1985. On Feb. 5 she was denied parole for the third time since becoming eligible for release in 2007.
    Tami Lynne was among nine of Tinning's children, including an adopted son, who did not live beyond the age of 4. Authorities suspected Tinning's first child died naturally -- but that she killed the other eight.
    The Times Union obtained transcripts of the Jan. 26 parole hearing at Bedford Hills in which Tinning reveals her guilt in the murder more than ever before. In 2009, her only explanation for her grisly crime was that she was "going through bad times" when she committed the murder.
    And in 2007 she was admonished by the board for a lack of remorse.
    On Jan. 26, parole commissioner Mary Ross asked Tinning: "This charge involved the murder of your 4-month-old child who was smothered with a pillow, is this right?"
    "Yes, ma'am," Tinning replied.
    "Did you do that?" Ross asked.
    "Yes, ma'am, I did," Tinning answered.
    Ross later asked Tinning what she thought when her children were dying.
    Tinning replied: "Two things that I wanted in life was to be married to someone who cared for me and to have children and, other than that, I can't give you a reason."
    She said sudden infant death syndrome caused the deaths of her other children.
    In the interview, Ross noted Tinning has certificates of achievement from nonviolence and anger management programs and that she now works for a chaplain. Ross and parole commissioner Jared Brown also cited letters of support for Tinning from people she has worked with in prison, as well as from Georgetown Law School, with some describing her as the "most loving, most generous, caring person that they have ever met."
    At one point Ross asked Tinning, "When you look back at your actions ... what insight do you have into it or yourself?"
    Tinning replied: "When I look back I see a very damaged and just a messed up person and I have tried to become a better person while I was here, trying to be able to stand on my own and ask for help when I need it, others when they need it. ... (S)ometimes I try not to look in the mirror and when I do, I just, there is no words that I can express now. I feel none. I'm just, just none."
    Tinning, noting she worked with AIDS patients in prison, said she would like to volunteer with such patients if released -- and that some places have told her husband, Joseph, they would be willing to use her.
    She said she would live with her husband if released. He visits once a month but it is "getting harder," she told the board.
    Tinning was also suspected of trying to poison her husband, but never charged.
    On Feb. 5, the parole board's decision found Tinning's release would be incompatible with public safety and would diminish the seriousness of her crime.
    She is eligible for parole again in January 2013.
    The parole board's ruling stated: "This decision is based on the following factors: You stand convicted of the serious offense of murder in which you caused the death of your infant daughter by smothering her with a pillow. This was a heinous crime. You were in a position of trust and violated that trust by taking the life of an innocent child."

    SIDS: CDC find no clues at Fort Bragg

    Feb 14, 2011
    It was the second-best outcome imaginable. An investigation led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has concluded that construction materials did not cause 11 infant deaths on Fort Bragg in four years - and neither did the other environmental influences that it tested.
    "We have safe and secure housing for our families," said Col. Stephen Sicinski, the garrison commander.
    It's good to have the news in such straightforward language, without equivocation or ambiguities. That's what the community at large, and several specific groups, have been waiting to hear.
    There's no consolation in the report for the families of the babies (one of whom was found to have died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). But for parents and others who experienced respiratory distress consistent with exposure to toxic drywall, this should relieve some of the anxiety about their own health. The drywall in use at Fort Bragg is of U.S. origin and, the investigation shows, harmless.
    A much larger number of military families having no direct connection with any of the 11 cases nevertheless has an interest in the announcement that their quarters are not threatened by toxic drywall. That assurance is especially valuable to those who had noted other conditions associated with drywall contamination: odor, failing air conditioners, corroded metal fixtures, blackened copper fittings.
    Troops with the Forces and Reserve commands, many of them expecting to move into family housing this year, couldn't have gotten this general all-clear signal at a better time. Those early days at a new post are busy enough without adding worries about the safety of one's quarters.
    It is, as we said, the second-best outcome.
    The best would have been confirmation of the causes of those children's deaths. That would have removed the same doubts, and given the parents some sense of closure, as well.
    It may happen. That investigation is still under way.
    A spokesman for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command provided neither details nor a timetable, but confirmed that the 10 cases are still under investigation, adding that the latest development - eliminating toxic drywall as a suspect - "has helped us narrow our focus."
    That could be a drawn-out task that leads to 10 different causes of death - or fails to find any. Tedious, costly and uncertain. But tedium goes with the job and Sicinski had just the right take on the cost: It doesn't matter. It's the people who matter.

    SIDS: Nebraska: Lorenzo Guzman and Nicole Ramirez charged with manslaughter

     Bret Hayworth, February 11, 2011

    DAKOTA CITY, Neb. -- An attorney for a man charged with manslaughter in the death of an infant who was found lifeless in a reclining chair told a judge today he will show the baby died of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.
    At the same hearing in Dakota County District Court, an attorney for the baby's mother, also charged with manslaughter, said his client was not responsible for the death because she did not place the child in the chair.
    Lorenzo Guzman, 35, and Nicole Ramirez, 24, appeared before Judge John Samson for a three-hour preliminary hearing in the case. Police say Guzman placed the baby, Abrieana Renee Mace, in a recliner and propped up a bottle so she could feed about 5 a.m. Aug. 17 and that no one checked on her for seven hours.
    An autopsy report lists positional asphyxiation as the cause of death. The 11-week-old baby died in Guzman's South Sioux City home, where Ramirez and three of her children, including Abrieana, were staying.
    Guzman and Ramirez had originally been charged with child abuse resulting in death, a felony that carries a penalty of 20 years to life in prison. Last month, those charges were reduced to manslaughter, which is punishable by one to 20 years in prison.
    South Sioux City Police Officer Shawn Jensen was the first officer to respond to the 12:35 p.m. Aug. 17 call, after Ramirez and Guzman reportedly awoke about 11:30 a.m., gave one of Ramirez's other children a haircut and, an hour later, found the baby dead in the chair. Jensen testified Friday that when he arrived, it was obvious Abreana had been dead for several hours.
    He testified about a conversation between Guzman and an emergency responder at the scene, in which Guzman said the baby had been found face down in the chair.
    Officer Andrew Backman questioned Guzman in the police station later that day and testified Friday that Guzman told him Ramirez had gone to sleep at 11:30 p.m. Aug. 16 and that he went to sleep about 12:30 a.m. At that time, Abrieana had been strapped in a car seat in their bedroom, and when Guzman awoke briefly at 5 a.m., he took the baby into the living room, placed her in the recliner, propped her up and left a bottle nearby.
    Backman said Guzman told of waking at 9 a.m. when one of Ramirez's children stirred in the living room. Guzman reportedly went into the room, saw nothing wrong with Abrieana, and returned to sleep in the bedroom until he and Ramirez awoke at 11:30 a.m. Their first action reportedly was to give a haircut to one of the two older children, and they found Abrieana unresponsive around 12:30 p.m.
    "(Guzman) said (Ramirez) was a very heavy sleeper, she never got up at night," Backman said. "That was his responsibility, when they were at his house," Backman said.
    Abrieana's father, Vernon Mace, lives in Wagner, S.D., and Ramirez periodically had her children live with Mace and then Guzman, with whom she had an off-and-on relationship, Backman said.
    Backman said Ramirez told him during interrogation that Abrieana had a habit of stopping breathing, but he said a talk with the clinic doctor in Wagner revealed that the physician had never been told that.
    Dakota County Public Defender John Loos Jr., who represents Ramirez, asked Backman if both people in the house should have been expected to check on the child.
    "It would seem to me the burden would fall on the mother," Backman responded.
    Nebraska State Patrol officer Doug Johnson, who responded with Backman on that August day, said the baby had been left alone from roughly 5 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. "The child had been left unattended for seven hours," Johnson said.
    Loos asked whether a parent should check hourly on infants under their care. Johnson said he and his wife checked on their own children frequently, before Samson halted that line of questioning.
    Later, as he ended his remarks for the day, Loos said that although he respected the testimony of the policemen, "I don't believe it is a mother's job ... to get up every time, every night."
    Johnson testified that he'd investigated roughly eight cases of people dying of positional asphyxiation but that this was the first involving a child. He said people died by that means after being intoxicated or with other complicating factors.
    Under questioning by special prosecutor Sandra Allen of the Nebraska Attorney General's Office, Johnson said Dr. Thomas Bennett, a former Iowa state medical examiner, also filed a report on the baby's death. Bennett agreed with the coroner's conclusion, Johnson said.
    "This was not a SIDS death, this was definitely asphyxiation," Johnson, said summarizing Bennett's report.
    An attorney for Guzman, Jerry Soucie, of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy in Lincoln, said he will use the testimony of a Colorado doctor to show the baby died of SIDS.
    Attorneys for both defendants have until March 1 to file briefs in the case.

    SIDS: Ontario: Rayden Bush

    Lou Whitmire
    MANSFIELD — A 5-month-old baby boy died today at his  home from what is thought to be Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
    Richland County Coroner Dr. Stewart Ryckman said there was no obvious trauma seen on the body of Rayden Michael Bush, and called it a SIDS-type death. An autopsy will be done Thursday in Summit County.

    SIDS is a syndrome marked by the sudden death of an infant that is unexpected by history and remains unexplained after a thorough forensic autopsy and a detailed death scene investigation.

    “There’s no evidence of anything foul,” he said from the duplex, which the parents of the child were just moving into today.

    The baby, born Sept. 9, is the son of Jason Bush, 19, and Jessica Wingrove, 21.

    Rayden was apparently asleep on a mattress on the floor upstairs with his sister Addisyn Bush, 2, and their father when the father noticed the baby was not breathing and called 9-1-1, Ryckman said.

    Their landlord, Wally Toward, was at the house because the gas company was turning on the gas today for the family, he said.

    Employees of Wal-Mart Superstore in Ontario, where the baby’s mother worked, were on the scene Wednesday afternoon. They brought her home from work.

    Mansfield police Juv. Det. Jeff Shook is handling the case.

    Tuesday, 22 February 2011

    SBS: Connecticutt: Debbie DeCarvalho and Mario Leone arrested

    A Westport couple arrested for allegedly hurting their 6-month-old foster child and not caring for three other foster children in their care pleaded not guilty to assault and risk of injury charges at state Superior Court in Norwalk Thursday.
    Debbie DeCarvalho, 42, and Mario Leone, 38, of Westport, made the pleas before Judge Bruce Hudock.
    The two were arrested on first-degree assault charges Jan. 19 following a six-month Westport police investigation after the couple brought a 6-month-old boy into the Norwalk Hospital Emergency Room in early July.
    The boy had bleeding on the brain and a possible skull fracture that could have been caused by shaken baby syndrome, according to arrest warrant affidavits.
    Leone's defense attorney, Joseph Colarusso, said it is too early to comment because he has not seen the baby's medical records or talked with others associated with the case.
    "My client steadfastly maintains his innocence," he said.
    DeCarvalho, kennel manager and pet stylist at Town House for Dogs and Cats at her Post Road East address, told investigators the baby, which had been in her care for three weeks, had not fallen or experienced injuries to the head.
    Leone, however, told police at one point during the short time they had the child, the baby accidentally fell off the couch and landed on his back.
    DeCarvalho's attorney, Vicki Hutchinson, said her client maintains she did nothing to harm any of the children in her care.
    When staff from the state Department of Children and Families interviewed the three other children in their care, they said that DeCarvalho paid little attention to them while attending her pet-grooming business. The children, however, said they never saw DeCarvalho or Leone mistreat the baby.
    DeCarvalho was charged with three additional counts of risk of injury to a minor as a result of those interviews.
    DeCarvalho and Leone are to return to court Feb. 25.
    After turning themselves over to police, DeCarvalho was released on $50,000 cash bond and Leone was released on $25,000 cash bond.

    SBS: West Virginia: Ian Kessinger

    Feb 10, 2011, Jessica
    Ian Kessinger screen shot via WSAZ News Channel 3
    A West Virginia man has admitted to the brutal torture and shaking of his infant son who is only but a few months old. The father, Ian Kessinger, 30, also has a two year old daughter who he says he has not abused and two other children whom which he does not have custody of. The infant’s injuries were found when he was brought to a routine checkup and the pediatrician noticed some abnormalities. The doctor recommended that the baby be admitted to the hospital where scans revealed that the baby had a fractured skull, a broken collar bone and a broken wrist. Authorities believe these injuries accumulated over several incidents.
    Ian Kessinger is reportedly showing remorse but blames his anger issues on drugs and alcohol. At this time, the mother, Emily Sayre, 31, is not currently being charged with a crime because police believe she didn’t know about the abuse, although it’s hard to imagine such serious injuries would go unnoticed. The couple is not married although sources say they have been together for many years. Kessinger is currently being held on a $75,000 bond, charged with felony child abuse and if convicted will only serve between 2 – 10 years.

    SBS: Ohio: Tiffani Calise

    AKRON, OH (WOIO) - A pregnant woman in jail for murdering a toddler she was babysitting is asking to have her bond lowered so she can leave jail to give birth.
    Tiffani Calise is accused of killing little Aaliyah Ali last August at Briarwood Apartments in Green.
    Calise's attorneys say they plan on fighting the ruling that the cause of death was Shaken Baby Syndrome.
    Calise maintains she left the little girl in the tub for just a few minutes, and the child fell and hit her head.
    Calise is pregnant with her second child and remains locked up at the Summit County Justice Center on a half million dollar bond.
    The judge has not yet ruled on her attorney's request to lower the bond.
    Calise's trial is scheduled to begin April 11th.

    SBS: Arizona: Jonathan Edward Vandergriff and Staci Lynn Barbosa charged

    JIM SECKLER/The Daily News: February 15, 2011
    KINGMAN — A motion to depose a witness in the case of a Bullhead City man who allegedly murdered his infant son was argued Tuesday in Superior Court.
    Court Commissioner Derek Carlisle allowed Creighton Cornell, the Tucson attorney for Jonathan Edward Vandergriff, to withdraw a motion to depose a witness in the case with the understanding that the prosecutor will informally interview the witness. Cornell may re-file the motion in the future. Cornell said the witness is in and out of a Phoenix hospital.
    Vandergriff, 24, and his co-defendant, Staci Lynn Barbosa, 19, are each charged with first-degree murder, child abuse by domestic violence, sexual assault of a minor under the age of 15 and sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 15 for the death of their infant son last summer.
    Vandergriff faces the death penalty if convicted of the murder charge. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty against Barbosa. The couple could also face life in prison with or without the chance of parole after 35 years if convicted of murder.

    Another hearing is set for Tuesday to argue a motion to allow Cornell to visit with his client in person. Since the new Mohave County jail has been built, inmates only communicate with family members by video conferencing and sometimes with attorneys through a glass partition. Also to be argued is another motion to allow Vandergriff to have contact with his daughter.
    Vandergriff’s case, a capital murder case, has been designated a complex case, which means he will not go to trial for more than a year. Vandergriff is being held on $500,000 bond and Barbosa is being held on a $250,000 bond.
    Barbosa was arrested June 15, 2010, after she took her badly injured son, Matthew, to the Western Arizona Regional Medical Center. Vandergriff turned himself in to police officers later that day.
    According to hospital staff, Matthew suffered from bruises, broken ribs, a broken femur, swollen eyes and was malnourished and dehydrated. The infant allegedly showed signs of sexual abuse and shaken baby syndrome. Matthew was later taken to a Las Vegas hospital where he died the next morning.

    SBS: North Dakota: Harriet Rose Feather

    February 15, 2011,

     U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on Feb. 14, Harriet Rose Feather of Tokio, N.D., was sentenced before U.S. District Court Judge Ralph R. Erickson on a charge of felony child abuse.
    Feather, 31, pleaded guilty on Dec. 3, 2010, to beating her 4-year-old son.  The incident occurred in August 2010 on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation.
    Feather was on supervised release for a previous child abuse conviction in 2005 for shaking an 18-month-old child so violently he suffered shaken baby syndrome. The medical bills were more than $60,000 for the injures she inflicted on that child.
    Erickson sentenced Feather to seven years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. Feather was ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to the Crime Victim's Fund.
    Feather was also ordered to pay $2,869 in medical restitution.
    The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Spirit Lake Tribal Social Services.
    Assistant U.S. Attorney Janice M. Morley prosecuted the case.

    SBS: OHIO: Matthew Boivin sentenced

    A Glouster man was sentenced to nearly five years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to three felonies and a misdemeanor last month.

    Matthew Boivin, 22, was sentenced to four years and 11 months in prison for felonious assault, domestic violence and two counts of endangering children.

    The charges stemmed from an incident in March when Boivin caused serious physical harm to his 2-month-old son and caused or attempted to cause physical harm to his wife, according to court documents.

    His son, now 1 year old, suffered shaken baby syndrome with a retinol hemorrhage and brain contusions resulting in partial paralysis and blindness, according to the documents.

    Boivin pleaded guilty to the four charges as part of an agreement with the Athens County Prosecutor's Office. He could have been sentenced to a maximum of 17 years and six months in prison and pay a maximum fine of $36,000, according to the agreement. Four years and 11 months was the suggested sentence.

    Boivin was sentenced to four years in prison for felonious assault and one count of endangering children, 11 months for domestic violence and six months for the second count of endangering children, according to court documents.

    The six-month charge will run concurrent to the other charges. Boivin will spend four years and 11 months in prison. He will be given credit for the 305 days already spend in the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail, according to court documents.

    He could be released early on good time credit. After his release, he will be on probation for three years. He could be released Dec. 21, 2012, with a favorable report from the warden.

    If he were convicted at a trial, Boivin could have spent a maximum of 18 years in prison and paid a maximum fine of $36,000, according to the Ohio Revised Code.

    SBS: Nebraska: Ryan Kozisek charged

    News-Times Staff: February 15, 2011

    YORK — Ryan Kozisek, 29, of Gresham has been arrested on allegations that his infant daughter died as a result of abuse.
    York County Attorney Bill Sutter filed formal charges Monday morning and obtained a warrant for Kozisek’s arrest. The York County Sheriff’s Department confirmed they took Kozisek into custody.
    Four-month-old Kayley Kozisek died at Children’s Hospital in Omaha on Jan. 25. According to court documents, Gresham and York rescue squads were dispatched to the Kozisek home on Jan. 24, at 12:15 p.m., after Ryan Kozisek called 911 saying his daughter was not breathing.
    According to the arrest affidavit, the dispatcher was advised that the baby was in full cardiac arrest when emergency responders arrived. Kayley was transported to York General Hospital and then life-flighted to Children’s Hospital in Omaha.
    The affidavit, submitted by Lt. Paul Vrbka from the sheriff’s department, says Ryan Kozisek was home alone with Kayley and his 2-year-old daughter, Kaydence. Sutter said Ryan’s wife, Kassandra, was at work at the time and had been gone since approximately 4:15 a.m.

    Court documents indicate Ryan told emergency personnel the 2-year-old sister, Kaydence, accidentally fell off a stepping stool onto the baby.
    Dr. Suzanne Haney, MD, a doctor at Children’s Hospital, was interviewed by investigators. Vrbka says Dr. Haney told investigators that the baby sustained “traumatic injuries including bleeding on the brain” which was causing swelling and increased inter-cranial pressure. Dr. Haney indicated that the baby also had a depressed occipital skull fracture, severe cerebral edema and probable retinal hemorrhages which resulted in her being in a comatose state. Dr. Haney indicated that Kayley Kozisek’s prognosis was extremely critical and that she likely would not survive beyond two or three days. Kayley Kozisek’s injuries were consistent with violent trauma associated with shaken baby syndrome. Dr. Haney advised that her injuries could not have been caused by a 2-year-old, or her falling and striking her head on something. Her injuries could only have been caused by the violent force associated with someone violently shaking her. Dr. Haney also noted that the depressed fracture in the back of her skull was the result of her being violently struck with some type of an object and not the result of an accidental fall.
    “Dr. Haney indicated that the skull fracture, which was approximately the size of a golf ball, appeared to have been sustained approximately two weeks before this emergency call. Dr. Haney indicated that the skull fracture sustained approximately two weeks ago did not cause any of the symptoms that were threatening her life. Dr. Haney also noted there was a bruise on (the infant’s) upper back.”
    Lt. Vrbka says Ryan Kozisek told investigators that no one else had visited their house prior to the medical emergency.

    Sutter said Monday that since the child’s death, his office and the York County Sheriff’s Department has been investigating the situation, which included interviews with attending physicians and social workers, and the review of findings from an autopsy. They were assisted by the Nebraska State Patrol.
    Ryan Kozisek is being charged with two counts of felony child abuse. The first is classified as a Class 1B felony, regarding the allegations of what happened on Jan. 24, resulting in Kayley’s death. If convicted, the range of penalty is between 20 years and life in prison.
    The second charge is classified as a Class 2 felony, regarding the allegations of what may have occurred two weeks prior, on approximately Jan. 10, resulting in bodily injury. If convicted of this charge, the range of penalty is between 1 and 50 years in prison.
    A bond hearing is pending in the matter.

    SBS: Ohio: Randy Allen Wylie

    February 12, 2011
    LISBON - More time has been granted with a new trial date for an East Palestine man accused of seriously injuring a 4-month-old child in 2009.
    Randy Allen Wylie, 25, of 415 Alice St., appeared Friday for a status conference in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court before Judge Scott Washam, who agreed to reset the trial date to May 23. The trial had been scheduled to begin Monday.
    A new status hearing has been set for 10 a.m. May 20.
    The county grand jury charged Wylie with endangering children, a second-degree felony which carries a possible sentence of two to eight years in prison upon conviction.
    The bill of particulars, which outlines the conduct of the offense in the indictment, alleged Wylie "did recklessly abuse" the child on Sept. 1, 2009, resulting in the child suffering serious physical harm with injury to brain tissue and causing the child to suffer "a severe seizure disorder."
    County assistant Prosecutor Tim McNicol said previously that Wylie was the child's caregiver at the time and "the child suffered injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome." The incident occurred in East Palestine, with the victim receiving treatment at Akron Children's Hospital. Shaken baby syndrome is defined as a form of child abuse which causes injury when an infant or small child is violently shaken, according to Wikipedia.
    McNicol said the victim in this case "has some serious neurological problems as a result of the injury and may have some permanent disability."
    The defense requested the continuance for a later trial date. According to McNicol, the defense retained an expert to review the medical records in the case.

    SBS: Mallorca: Palma judge to decide fate of coma baby

    10 February 2011
     A JUDGE in Palma will have to decide on whether to end the life of seven month old baby girl who is in an irreversible coma. The baby has been in a coma for the past six months at Son Dureta having suffered a cerebral haemorrhage. The baby’s parents attributed the damage to a genetic disorder however the girl’s condition is also consistent with ‘shaken baby syndrome’.
    The baby was made a ward of court as a result.
    Last week the Juvenile Office asked for permission to provide only comfort measures and primary care to the child after a direct request from the Ethics Committee at Son Espases Hospital.
    In practice this would mean there would be a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ order should the baby get into respiratory problems. The child has been resuscitated five times in the past two months, and the hospital staff has had to incubate her on these occasions.
    In the Ethics Committee report it said, “we feel that we are in an irreversible situation where we are forced to use aggressive therapy on the child.”
    The baby’s parents have appealed to regain custody of their daughter. At the hearing the parents asked for the decision about the Ethics Committee report to be postponed. The baby’s parents continue to deny they abused their baby.
    The manager of the nursery which their other daughter attends has said that she “was always very happy” to see her parents, and a neighbour has said that they were an “exemplary family.”
    However the baby’s doctor has said that the child can barely breathe without assistance that she experiences pain and therefore has to be kept sedated.

    SBS: Virginia: Ladaidrius Markeese Batton pleads "No Contest"

    Patrick Wilson: The Virginian-Pilot: February 11, 2011

    A Norfolk man pleaded no contest to felony homicide in the death of his infant son, according to the commonwealth's attorney's office.
    Ladaidrius M. Batton will face five to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced May 17.
    Ladaidrius Markeese Batton, 22, will face five to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced May 17. He entered his plea Thursday in Circuit Court.
    According to court records, Batton conceded that evidence showed he was caring for his 2-month-old son, Ladaidrius Batton Jr., on Oct. 28, 2009, when he "inflicted massive head trauma" on his son when the baby was crying.
    Medical experts determined that the baby died of brain injuries caused by "shaken baby syndrome."
    Batton had told his girlfriend, the baby's mother, that she should go to a concert while he watched the baby at their Norfolk apartment.
    After the baby became unresponsive, Batton tried to perform CPR on him.

    SBS: Washington State: Miguel Garza charged

    Kristin M. Kraemer, Herald staff writer : 02/15/11
    Miguel Garza II, 27, initially claimed the girl stopped breathing after choking on milk, then told doctors he accidentally dropped a bottle on her face and she had gone limp, according to court documents.
    But doctors who examined the nearly comatose baby in October said her brain injury was the result of "inflicted head trauma," or shaken baby syndrome.
    The baby survived and reportedly is living with a foster parent while continuing treatment, including a feeding tube surgically inserted into her stomach.
    Garza is charged in Benton County Superior Court with first-degree assault of a child. He has been out of custody while Kennewick police investigated, and has been sent a letter to appear in court Feb. 24 to enter a plea.
    His is one of two cases filed in Benton County in the last week involving allegations of significant child abuse.
    In Garza's case, police and paramedics were called to a Kennewick home Oct. 19 for reports of a baby not breathing. Garza was alone with the baby.
    Officer Drew Sneyd was the first to arrive and "administered multiple palm strikes to the baby's back and she then began making gurgling noises," Deputy Prosecutor Kristin McRoberts wrote in the court documents.
    Garza told Sneyd he had given the baby a bottle while she was lying on the bed and she started choking. The girl's mother later told police her daughter had been born several weeks premature but otherwise had been healthy.
    At Kennewick General Hospital, Garza allegedly told a doctor his daughter went limp after he accidentally dropped a bottle on her face, and suggested that was why her lips were swollen. The doctor, however, told police the injuries were not consistent with that explanation.
    The baby was flown to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane after tests revealed she had bleeding on the brain.
    Kennewick police again talked to Garza. In a recorded statement, he said he had forgotten to warm up the milk so the baby began crying while he was feeding her. He said he removed the bottle from her mouth to warm it up and it dropped on her face.
    He said he warmed the bottle in the kitchen and returned to the bedroom to find the baby still crying.
    Garza "stated that he put the bottle in the baby's mouth, and while she was drinking, she continued crying and then started to choke," documents said. "He patted her back and she started vomiting milk out of her mouth and nose. She then went completely limp and he shook her for a second to see if she was OK."
    Garza said he then called 911.
    Doctors who examined the baby in Spokane diagnosed her with a head injury, noted her swollen lips and bruising on her right eye and put her on a ventilator. An ophthalmologist found the eye "extremely worrisome because the baby was at risk for permanent limitation of vision and retinal scarring," court documents said.
    Another doctor described her brain injury as "widespread and severe" and was concerned she might not survive.
    The baby was moved to Oregon Health and Science University Hospital in Portland on Nov. 4, where doctors confirmed bleeding on her brain and in her retinas, and discovered she had an inflamed trachea and seizures. After surgery on her eyes, the baby was described as having a poor visual prognosis. A neurosurgeon also inserted a shunt into the baby's brain.
    She was released to a foster parent Nov. 12, documents said.
    Detectives repeatedly interviewed Garza. He allegedly said he may have shaken his daughter for as long as 10 seconds, and described holding her head with the bottle in her mouth so she couldn't turn away.
    Garza allowed investigators to record a video while he re-enacted his story. The video was shown to one of the Spokane doctors who worked on the baby, and the doctor said Garza's actions as he claimed could not have caused the brain injury, documents said. The doctor noted there was no damage to the little girl's lung as would be expected if she had choked on milk.

    SBS: Kansas: Billy Barber trial

    February 16, 2011 : By Roger McKinney

    COLUMBUS, Kan. — The family friend who cared for a 2-month-old infant the night before she was taken to a hospital with brain injuries consistent with shaken-baby syndrome told jurors on Wednesday that the baby was fussy.
    Melissa Connor took the witness stand in the trial of Billy Barber. Barber, of Baxter Springs, is charged with felony child abuse and aggravated battery, alleging that on Feb. 7, 2008, he shook his infant daughter, causing serious brain injuries.
    “She cried,” Connor said of the baby on the night of Feb. 6, 2008. “It was almost unbearable, but I finally got her soothed. She was really fussy that night.”
    Connor said she didn’t shake or drop the baby. Questioning Connor, defense attorney JoAnna Derfelt tried to highlight inconsistencies between her Wednesday testimony and previous statements to police and in court.
    The trial is scheduled to continue today in Cherokee County District Court.

    Saturday, 12 February 2011

    SIDS: Ontario: Marco Trotta

    MICHELE MANDEL,  February 8, 2011
    Child killer Marco Trotta wants his conviction quashed because the notorious Dr. Charles Smith lied at his trial.
    Catching a ride on the wrongfully convicted train, Trotta will go before the Ontario Court of Appeal next month to argue that he, too, was unfairly done in by the discredited pathologist and was forced to spend nine years in prison crying himself to sleep.
    “We proved that in our previous trial, dated back to June 1998, that Dr. Charles Smith intentionally lied, under oath, in order to secure a conviction on behalf of the Crown,” Trotta, 42, says in documents filed Jan. 21 with the appeal court.
    “Between June 1998 and May 2007 I often cried myself to sleep at night. I was in constant fear for my life.”
    But don’t be misled into believing poor Trotta belongs with the litany of other innocents mistakenly imprisoned thanks to Smith.
    Trotta has now been convicted twice for the 1993 death of his horribly beaten eight-month-old son Paolo and this admitted child abuser is no poster boy for the truly wrongly convicted.
    When the Oshawa baby died in May 1993, his death was originally attributed to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). A year later, the Trottas’ new month-old son Marco Jr. was brought to the emergency room with a broken leg and bruises covering his little body. Suspecting the baby’s thigh had been twisted until it broke, doctors called police and Paolo’s death was reopened.
    Smith, Ontario’s top pediatric pathologist at the time, was called in to conduct a second post-mortem. He would testify he discovered a recent skull fracture in the exhumed body and Paolo really died of either a blow to the head or asphyxiation from being strangled or smothered.
    But unlike other cases, it wasn’t just Smith’s testimony that convicted Trotta of second-degree murder, aggravated assault and assault causing bodily harm. A parade of witnesses described a baby who was often black and blue, malnourished from watered-down milk and cried at the sight of his strict father. From the baby’s grandmother to the photographer at his christening, all were horrified at his battered condition.
    Most compelling, though, was the Trottas’ video of their trip to Florida just two weeks before the baby’s death that showed Paolo covered in ghastly dark bruises.
    Trotta was sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 15 years. His wife, Anisa, was convicted of criminal negligence causing death and handed a five-year sentence.
    “I was immediately incarcerated at the Whitby jail on June 12, 1998,” Trotta said in an affidavit filed with the appeal court. “During my time there I was jumped, punched and taunted with the words ‘baby killer.’”
    When he applied for a family visit with his wife in 2001, he was told he’d first have to have a vasectomy. “So I had a vasectomy,” he complained, “only to be told that I would still not get a (visit).”
    Trotta’s first appeal was dismissed in 2004. But three years later, he hit the jackpot. The Supreme Court of Canada quashed the pair’s convictions and ordered new trials because of fresh evidence that Smith’s findings had been completely discredited.
    Two expert pathologists concluded Paolo’s skull fracture was old, not new, and while both agreed the child had suffered “chronic child abuse” in his short eight months of life, neither could determine the cause of his death.
    Trotta wanted that to be the end of the matter. But while Justice Alexander Sosna agreed Smith had “misled the court,” he believed there was enough other evidence to warrant a retrial.
    Once again, Trotta was convicted in Whitby.
    In September 2009, he pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm and was found guilty of manslaughter. But Trotta still managed to go home with his smitten wife: Proceedings against her were stayed while he was sentenced to the nine years he’d already served in prison plus a year probation.
    A sweetheart deal if there ever was one. And it’s still not enough for Trotta.
    He wants to hitch a ride on the wrongly-convicted train — where a seat includes a sanitized reputation and compensatory cash waiting to be had.

    SIDS: Pennsylvania: Grandmother who killed one-month-old baby by sitting on her gets two years probation

    Daily Mail Reporter
     9th February 2011
    Involuntary manslaughter: Elane Springs after she was given two years probation for accidentally smothering her granddaughter Involuntary manslaughter: Elane Springs after she was given two years probation for accidentally smothering her granddaughter

    A grandmother who smothered her granddaughter by accidentally sitting on her has been sentenced to two years probation.
    Elane Springs, 50, from Pittsburgh, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of children in the death of one-month-old Tyjahe Springs on 17 September, 2008.
    Springs had put the baby to bed on the couch at 10.20pm and used a pillow to keep her from falling off.
    She then left her there while she did some housework, according to court documents.
    When she grew tired from housework, she sat down on the couch for several hours.
    At about 3am, she got up to use the bathroom and realised she had been sitting on the baby.
    The 50-year-old tried to revive Tyjahe by removing her clothes and patting her with a damp cloth.
    Defence Attorney: Wendy Williams
    Trial: The 50-year-old was charged with involuntary manslaughter after she sat on top of the one-month-old while babysitting her in her home
    Neglect: Elane Springs' attorney Wendy Willams, left, said the baby could have died before the accused sat on her
    Realising the baby was dead, she dressed her in a long-sleeve T-shirt and placed her in a car seat on a table. She then stripped the pillow cases from the cushions and washed them before calling her son an hour later and leaving a message.
    The message, which asked the son to tell his sister, the baby's mother, that the one-month-old was dead, was not received by her son until three hours later, during which time Springs did not call 911.
    The baby's mother arrived four hours after Springs first got up from the couch and called 911 but the baby was already dead.
    The medical examiner ruled the cause of Tyjahe's death was asphyxiation due to smothering and said it was an accident.
    Neglect: The 50-year-old sat with the dead baby for four hours without calling 911, washing the pillow cases and changing the baby's clothes.
    Neglect: The 50-year-old sat with the dead baby for four hours without calling 911, washing the pillow cases and changing the baby's clothes.
    Defence attorney Wendy Williams said: 'Based on what we know about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, she could have sat down and the child could have already passed and that's why she didn't know.'
    Springs was sentenced to two years probation, said Mike Manko, a spokesman for the Allegheny County district attorney's office.
    A charge of tampering with evidence was dismissed.
    Police said her charges came almost two years after the baby's death because the district attorney's office was investigating

    SBS: London Metropolitan Police accused: ''deliberately discredited pathologists''

    Tuesday, February 08, 2011

    The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has been accused of trying to discredit three leading pathologists when they were called in to court to provide their professional opinion in cases where babies are said to have been shaken to death.
    The Royal College of Pathologists has demanded an inquiry into claims by Drs Waney Squier, Irene Scheimberg and Marta Cohen that consultants were undermined in many non-accidental head injury (NAHI) cases. And the pathologists reckoned they all had allegations made against them that were initiated by the Met, among others.
    A spokesman for the MPS confirmed that police had raised concerns about "certain practices", adding: "We are aware of a report registered by the National Policing Improvement Agency with the General Medical Council regarding two doctors. The MPS has co-operated with a request from the GMC in June 2010 to provide any relevant information."
    However, according to the BBC, Detective Inspector Colin Welsh, a lead investigator with Scotland Yard's child abuse investigation command, said in a speech last year at a 'shaken baby' conference that in a meeting involving Met representatives, consultants and the Crown Prosecution Service the "impact and effect of contradictory expert evidence" was talked about.
    In particular, Welsh is reported to have said that the main reason cases failed was testimony by expert witnesses for the defence. So their qualifications, employment history and research should be queried. Welsh is also reported to have said "so deal with back door" which has been taken as meaning that concerns could be passed on to judges about the credibility of the expert witnesses.
    While confirming that Welsh had given the speech, the Met spokesman said the police were "completely committed to the judicial process and would never seek to improperly influence it".
    However, Dr Squier commented: "[A court] should be able to hear evidence for both prosecution and for a defence and that anybody who has a valid and sincere opinion should be given the opportunity to express that opinion in court.
    "And it appears to me that there has been an attempt to remove from the courts all of those people who are willing to challenge the mainstream hypothesis, even if those opinions are sincerely held and are based on a lot of day-to-day experience and are based on a thorough grounding in the current evidence available in the scientific literature."

    Shaken Baby Syndrome Convictions Overturned As Doctors Question the Diagnosis

    carolyncastiglia on February 3rd, 2011

    4152882810 3d27a3e364 300x237 Shaken Baby Syndrome Convictions Overturned As Doctors Question the Diagnosis
    New evidence suggests not all cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome are caused by shaking.
    Imagine having been sent to jail for shaking a child who later died, except you know you didn’t shake that child, despite all evidence to the contrary.  Then imagine — based on “fierce disagreement among doctors about the shaken-baby diagnosis” — that after 11 years in jail, your conviction was overturned, and you were set free.  Only by then, your husband had divorced you and taken your three daughters to live with him.
    That frightening tale is the real life story of Audrey Edmunds, a former secretary who left her job to start an in-home daycare.  In the early 90s, one of her charges, 7-month-old Natalie Beard, “suddenly collapsed while drinking a bottle of milk” and was found to have “the triad of shaken-baby symptoms.”  Natalie died, and Edmunds was convicted of “first-degree reckless homicide.”
    According to Emily Bazelon’s New York Times expose on the problems with the Shaken Baby Syndrome diagnosis, “A small but growing number of doctors warn that there can be alternate explanations — infections or bleeding disorders, for example — for the triad of symptoms associated with shaken-baby syndrome.”  
    This is the central argument of Bazelon’s lengthy piece.  She goes on to say, “Across the country, the group of lawyers that has succeeded in exonerating hundreds of people based on DNA evidence is now mounting 20 to 25 appeals of shaken-baby convictions.”  The term “Shaken Baby Syndrome” first became popular in the medical community in the 80s, after two pediatric specialists each wrote papers asserting that “unexplained subdural bleeding in babies could occur without direct impact to the head and with or without a visible neck injury.”  Doctors believed “that shaking could generate the same terrible force as throwing a child from a second-­story window.”
    Then, in 1987, “a neurosurgeon named Ann-Christine Duhaime published a paper that included the autopsy results of 13 babies with symptoms associated with shaken-baby syndrome.  In all of them she found evidence of trauma that was actually caused by impact.”  Duhaime believed it wasn’t shaking a baby that caused it to be injured but rather dropping them afterwards, “even if they hit a soft surface like a bed or a couch.”
    A 2001 study “found that most babies with the triad of shaken-baby symptoms suffered not from a rupture of the nerve fibers of the brain but rather from a lack of blood caused by oxygen deprivation to the brain’s cells.”  According to the paper, “This can explain how a child with the triad of shaken-baby symptoms could, for some period of time, seem fussy or lethargic or stop eating or sleeping well.”  Meaning that a child can appear lucid for several hours, days or weeks even before passing out from head trauma, forcing the medical establishment to conclude that there are “questions about whether the last person to care for a child before he or she stops breathing is necessarily guilty of abuse.”
    Accordingly, in 2009, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a position paper by Cindy Christian recommending “that doctors use the more general term abusive head trauma,” which implies that said trauma can occur from something other than shaking, such as — in the case of Philipp Baumer — stroke.  Baumer was removed from his home as an infant because of a child abuse conviction, yet even after the conviction was overturned he was not reunited with his birth parents.  (See page 7 of the article for his unbelievable story.)
    Audrey Edmunds, the mother I mentioned at the beginning of this post, has now been out of prison for three years.  Despite having a strained relationship with her three daughters, she seems to have a peaceful perspective on her incarceration.  She explained that “she had to come to terms with the drive to prosecute her,” telling Bazelon, “A baby has died.  They want to blame somebody.”

    SBS: Virginia: Trial delayed for Kathleen Ganiere, accused in death of foster child

     Credit: Va. Beach Police Dept.
    Kathleen Ganiere
     Feb 7
    VIRGINIA BEACH -- Jury selection was scheduled Monday in the trial of a Va. Beach woman accused of killing her foster child, but instead, the trial was delayed.  
    Kathleen Ganiere is facing a second-degree murder charge in the death of 9-month-old Braxton M. Taylor.
    Authorities say the little boy died from shaken baby syndrome a year ago today, a day after being rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
    A date is being worked out for her trial, perhaps in April, Commonwealth's Attorney spokeswoman Macie Pridgen told
    Ganiere has been free on bond awaiting trial on three charges -- second degree murder, child cruelty/neglect/abuse and child cruelty/neglect/abuse/reckless.
    "If convicted of all three charges, she faces between eight years and 55 years in prison," Pridgen noted.

    SBS: Indiana: Marquise Holmes charged in infant’s injuries

    February 10, 2011
    A Fort Wayne man is accused of causing skull fractures to a 6-month-old child he was caring for last year.
    Marquise T. Holmes, 22,  was formally charged  with battery and neglect of a dependent.
    Paramedics were called June 3 to a city home where they found an unconscious infant. According to court documents, hospital tests showed the baby boy had multiple skull fractures – some that were fresh, others that appeared to be in various stages of healing.
    The baby’s mother said she had left him in Holmes’ care. Holmes told police the infant at some point had a seizure, then said he didn’t know whether it was a seizure but that the child’s eyes rolled back into his head and he was “out of it,” according to court documents.
    The child survived.
    Doctors told police the injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome, according to court documents.

    SBS: As Experts Disagree About Evidence in Shaken-Baby Cases, Some Verdicts Face New Questions

    Feb 7, 2011
    It is now conventional wisdom that shaking a baby can leave the child with devastating, sometimes-fatal injuries.
    But some experts say the testimony on which criminal courts rely in convicting those responsible for such child abuse may not be as reliable as was once thought, according to the New York Times (reg. req.).
    Symptoms thought to conclusively show that shaking had occurred and the time frame in which injuries were deemed to have taken place are increasingly the subject of debate among experts, explains the magazine-length article. And some are also questioning whether innocent people have been wrongfully convicted based on unproven theories that were not aggressively challenged by defense lawyers relying on claimed medical expertise.
    For example, “it is simply incorrect to state that severe retinal hemorrhaging is diagnostic of abuse or shaking,” says Evan Matshes. The Canadian forensic pathologist presented a paper on the topic at a 2010 meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.
    Another doctor who expresses doubts about conventional wisdom is John Leventhal, a pediatrics professor who serves as child-abuse programs medical director at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital. He tells the Times a story of an unusual case with a relatively happy ending:
    “A child who was sitting in a high chair and put his feet up on the table in front of him ... rocked himself backward,” Leventhal said. “When the child was taken to the hospital, the ophthalmologist said, ‘This is shaken baby,’ because of the massiv e retinal bleeding. Luckily, there were seven people playing cards in the room when the baby fell.”
    The article is reminiscent of an earlier vociferous scientific debate over the deaths of other babies due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Before international research demonstrated that sleep position can be a key factor in such deaths, American experts built something of a cottage industry around breathing patterns and monitors thought to help prevent SIDS, the book The Death of Innocents explains.
    That breathing research initially helped protect at least one mother who had multiple babies die and was eventually criminally convicted based on valid evidence, says the book. Published in 1997 and written by journalists Richard Firstman and Jamie Talan, it dramatically describes in detail both the medical researchers and the legal professionals whose work was critical in the eventual resolution of the case.
    H. Dale Nute, an adjunct faculty member at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice of Florida State University describes the book as a "dual exposé of science and the law," demonstrating "the need for an open mind" on the part of all professionals involved in child-abuse cases.
    "Implicit in the theme of the book is that the task of the investigator is to consider probabilities rather than seek proof for preconceived 'certainties,' " Nute wrote. He suggests other academics might wish to consider assigning the The Death of Innocents as a class reading text.

    SBS: Illinois: Charles George charged in baby's beating death

    Feb 11, 2011
    Charles George Charles George

    DIXON (WREX) - A Dixon father is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on charges in the beating death of his three-month-old daughter.
    Charles George, 33, will face two counts of aggravated battery of a child, aggravated domestic battery and involuntary manslaughter in the death of 3-month-old Tamari George.
    The Winnebago County Coroner's office says Tamari died of blunt force trauma to the head. Her injuries were consistent with "Shaken Baby Syndrome" and included retinal hemorrhages, retinal detachments in both eyes, broken ribs, and multiple skull fractures.
    She died at Rockford Memorial Hospital on September 23, 2010, three days after she was flown there from KSB Hospital in Dixon.
    George is being held in the Lee County Jail on $1 million bond. He's scheduled to be arraigned on those new charges Friday in Lee County Court.
    George also faces charges for allegedly physically abusing his four-year-old son.

    SBS: Connecticutt: DeCarvalho and Leone: Accused Baby Assaulters Arraigned, Plead Not Guilty

    Harold F. Cobin | | February 3, 2011 The former foster parents of four children were arraigned in state Superior Court in Norwalk Thursday, accused of assaulting a baby in their care, resulting in a fractured skull and bruising and hemorrhaging of his brain.
    Following an investigation, on Jan. 19 Westport Police charged Debbie C. DeCarvalho, 42, of 1040 Post Rd. East, with five counts of risk of injury to child and one count of first-degree assault; and Mario Leone Jr., 38, of the same address, with one count each of risk of injury to a child and first-degree assault.
    Both charges are felonies.
    Appearing before Judge Bruce Hudock, they pleaded not guilty and had their cases continued to Feb. 25.
    Last July 2, an emergency department supervisor at Norwalk Hospital contacted Westport Police reporting a woman was there with an infant she said had a “seizure like episode,” and upon examination, a physician found had “bleeding on the brain” and a possible skull fracture.
    In a sworn affidavit to obtain arrest warrants for DeCarvalho and Leone, Det. Sereniti Dobson said the examining physician, Dr. Berger, said the infant had no external bruising or lacerations, but had injuries “indicative” of shaken baby syndrome.
    Dobson says DeCarvalho told her she had cared for the child for approximately three weeks and when she was changing him on the changing table, “his arms tightened up; then became flaccid and he showed signs that he was having trouble breathing.”
    Dobson said she went to the foster parents’ home and spoke with Leone, who said DeCarvalho is the sole caretaker of the children and the baby had not been in anyone else’s care.
    During an interview at Westport Police headquarters, Dobson alleges, DeCarvalho told her the baby did not fall or hit his head.
    DeCarvalho allegedly stated she is the sole caretaker of the four children, and that she runs a dog grooming business in her home and uses baby monitors to watch what the children are doing while she is working.
    “(DeCarvalho) states she walks upstairs to check on them every hour or so,” Dobson says in her affidavit, and “if the children need anything they know that they can pick up the monitor and hit the intercom button.”
    Dobson says that during an interview with Leone, he said he believed something “freaky” must have happened to cause the baby’s injuries, and suggested one of the other children in their care “must have done something.”
    “Leone expressed that the (redacted) old had always been jealous of the baby,” Dobson says.
    She says when she asked Leone if the baby had accidently fallen, he told her he had fallen off the coach “a while ago.”
    “Leon stated DeCarvalho picked him back up and put him back on the coach,” Dobson says.
    Dobson says the baby was discharged from the Westchester Medical Center in New York last July 12 diagnosed with brain injuries “consistent with a traumatic event consisting of shaking impact,” and a right-sided, non-depressed skull fracture.
    DeCarvalho was released after posting combined $50,000 cash bonds, and Leone was released after posting a $25,000 cash bond.
    The state’s Department of Children and Family Services removed the couple’s other three foster children from their home.

    SBS: Arizona: New Trial Ordered for Armando Castillo Convicted in 1998 Shaken Baby Case; Attorneys Claim New Evidence Proves Innocence

    Gregory Pratt,

    The Maricopa County Attorney's Office agreed this morning to a new trial for a man convicted in 1998 murder of his then-girlfriend's child.
    Superior Court Judge Glenn Davis vacated Armando Castillo's conviction per the agreement and ordered a new trial as well as a status hearing to be held on February 16, to determine whether to release Castillo on bond.
    Castillo has been in prison since 1998. Prior to going to prison, Castillo lived with his then-girlfriend, Clara Yates, and babysat her child, Steve Young Jr. According to court records filed by the Arizona Justice Project, Yates trusted Castillo with her son because he had three children of his own from another relationship.
    On June 13, 1998, Yates left her son with Castillo while she went to work. When she returned, Castillo left to pick up his children so they could go swimming in their pool. Later that evening, Yates went to check on her son and found that he had "snot" coming out of his nose. Yates thought he was choking on his own vomit, and when she picked him up, he gasped and went unconscious.
    Paramedics arrived a short while later and found that his airway was full of vomit. He was taken to the hospital and placed in intensive care. He died the next day.
    During his autopsy, medical examiner Dr. Mark Fischione noted the presence of a subdural hematoma and retinal hemorrhages -- bleeding in the brain and eyes.
    Dr. Kay Rauth-Farley, a child abuse specialist, was called by Phoenix police about the case, and concluded that Steven had been shaken, leading to his death.
    Because shaken baby syndrome, or SDS, was believed at the time to result in immediate loss of consciousness, the police focused their investigation on the two people who had been with Young Jr. on that day: Yates and Castillo.
    Castillo denied harming the child and passed two lie detector tests to that effect, but he was nevertheless charged with the crime. Fischione and Farley testified at trial that the bleeding was a sure-sign of abuse and Castillo was convicted, according to court records.
    Shaken baby-syndrome had its heyday as a medical theory in the 1990s, and while it has not been entirely discredited it has become quite controversial in recent years. Last summer, New Times reported on the case of Lisa Randall, a daycare operator who was charged with murder in a similar case that was dismissed.
    In 2007, Castillo learned that there was new debate over SBS. He sent the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's records in the case of Steven Young Jr. to a medical pathologist who concluded in 2008 that Steve Young Jr. did not die from SBS. From there, he contacted the Arizona Justice Project, which took his case.
    Last April, project attorneys Stephen Leshner and Larry Hammond filed a petition for post-conviction relief requesting an evidentiary hearing for a new trial.
    In their brief, they argued that Castillo's original attorney provided deficient counsel by not disputing the cause of death, that new medical research exists to cast doubt on SBS as the cause of death in this case, and that the jury, "armed with a different timeline" and "new evidence" that confirms "an older abdominal injury" would have been fatal, "probably would not have found Armando Castillo guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
    In their petition, Leshner and Hammond point out that Steve Young Jr. had been sick in the days leading up to his collapse. He was not eating, had a fever, and was vomiting, leading them to think he had the flu. A series of strange bruises had begun to appear on his body, most notably on his abdomen.
    According to court records, Steve Young Jr.'s father, Steve Young Sr., had not seen his son regularly after breaking up with Yates. That changed in April 1998, when he began seeing his son regularly. Steve Sr. watched his son from June 1-3 and 8-10. Around June 7, Yates noticed that Young Jr. had "unexplained" bruises on his abdomen and scrotum.
    The brief recounts an incident where Castillo asked Young Jr. about his injuries and he said, "Owee, belly, Kelly," which Castillo took to mean Young's girlfriend.
    "Just about two weeks before he died, Steven got a black eye. It was big and covered a good portion of his face, and Steve Sr. claimed it was caused by a tire swing; but Armando said when he asked Steven Jr. how it happened, Steven said, 'Owee, football, daddy,'" the brief states
    The point in the petition is not that Clara Yates or Steve Young Sr. killed Steve Young Jr., but that Young Jr. did not die as a result of SBS and that other "leads" were present to investigators.
    The Justice Project cites three experts in its brief to support its argument that Young Jr. did not die of Shaken Baby Syndrome.
    The first is Dr. Janice Ophoven, assistant medical examiner for St. Louis County, Minnesota, who testifies that the diagnosis of SBS was not "scientifically sound."
    Pediatric Neuroradiologist Dr. Patrick Barnes testified that the injuries sustained by Young Jr. were 3-7 days older than prosecutors believed, and that Young Jr.'s death was likely caused by oxygen deprivation rather than blunt trauma.
    Finally, Dr. Patrick Hannon, a biomechanics expert, testified that the description of the child's brain given to the jury was "inaccurate," and argued that the lack of grip marks or damage to the spine indicated the baby had not been shaken. He claims that the likely cause of death was a blow to the abdomen that had left bruising.
    Castillo was on the verge of tears throughout today's hearing. He is a thin man with short and neat hair, who spent much of the hearing bent in prayer. When the judge walked in, he took a deep breath that could be heard in the back of the courtroom.
    His parents, wife, uncles, and a good friend from Colorado came to the hearing to show their support, along with most of the Justice Project staff.
    Armando Castillo's attorneys argue that he should be released on his own recognizance until trial, and noted that he was not a flight risk because his family had pledged their support, he has already served much of his sentence, and has a job lined up for him with local attorney Guy Brown.
    Prosecutors disagree, noting that the charges - second-degree murder and child abuse - are serious, and that he should be released only on bond. The judge ordered a pretrial services hearing for next week to determine bond. From there, his trial is expected to begin within the next sixty days.