Mistaken Convictions Suspected In Many Shaken-Baby-Syndrome Cases


A group of lawyers that has succeeded in exonerating hundreds of people based on DNA evidence is mounting 20 to 25 appeals of shaken-baby convictions, reports the New York Times “No one wants child abuse,” says Keith Findley, a lawyer for the Wisconsin Innocence Project. “But we should not be prosecuting and convicting people in shaken-baby cases right now, based on the triad of symptoms, without other evidence of abuse. If the medical community can't agree about all the conflicting data and research, how is a jury supposed to reach a conclusion that's beyond a reasonable doubt?”

Between 1,200 and 1,400 U.S. children sustain head injuries attributed to abuse each year. Most of them are under a year old. Usually, there's not much dispute that the children were abused, because doctors discover other signs of mistreatment — cuts, bruises, burns, fractures — or a history of such injuries. Law-enforcement authorities believe there are about 200 shaken-baby prosecutions annually. In an estimated 50 percent to 75 percent of them, the only medical evidence of shaken-baby syndrome is the triad of internal symptoms: subdural and retinal hemorrhage and brain swelling.


Comments are closed.