Shaken-Baby Cases Are Dropped As Experts Question Syndrome’s Basis


Drayton Witt in May became the second Arizonan in two years to see his guilty verdict in a shaken-baby case erased. The Arizona Justice Project, a volunteer group of attorneys, filed a motion to toss out his murder conviction based on the evolving science around what is known as shaken-baby syndrome,, says the Arizona Republic. The state did not file an argument in response.

Among those who helped secure Witt’s freedom was the 97-year-old British pediatric neurosurgeon who, in 1971, first identified the trio of telltale symptoms that became accepted as proof that a baby had been violently shaken. Attorneys also secured a sworn statement from the medical examiner who originally ruled the baby died from being shaken. His revised conclusion was that the baby died of a disease. A growing body of medical and legal experts, nationally and internationally, are casting doubt on the syndrome. Pediatric neurologists and forensic pathologists say the long-held triad of symptoms — bleeding on the brain, swelling of the brain, and bleeding in the eyes — thought to indicate a baby was violently and intentionally shaken could also be caused by a host of diseases, including infections.

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