From the May 2002 Idaho Observer:
My son Alan was vaccinated despite several contra-indications. He was a premature baby weighing only 5lb 9oz at birth. My wife's pregnancy was complicated with maternal gestational diabetes, and group B streptococcal infection (which in itself poses a high risk of infant death). My son suffered in his short life from pneumonia, respiratory distress syndrome, and hyper-bilirubinemia. Despite all of this he was given a cocktail of vaccines at eight weeks of age.
The day after he was vaccinated, my baby developed a fever and started to fuss. Ten days later he elicited a high pitched scream. We were told to expect this and not to worry. A couple of days later he stopped breathing. I rushed my baby to the hospital where he died after several severe iatrogenics took place (iatrogenic diseases are those caused by physicians).
Because we could not explain his injuries, and because I was the last adult alone with him, I was charged with aggravated child abuse and first degree murder. We could not afford counsel; our lawyers were public defenders. If that wasn't enough, our four-year-old daughter was taken by the authorities to 'protect her' from I - the accused who was in a maximum security facility without bond. She was used by the police and authorities to threaten and blackmail my wife to help them fabricate evidence and testify against me. My wife adamantly refused to do this. She was charged as an accessory to murder and our daughter was placed in extended custody. Here, she was sexually battered and molested when her 'protectors' left her unsupervised with two boys who had a history of deviant behaviour. My wife's charges were dismissed after great effort and cost and our daughter was returned. They both fight every day to bring our family together and have been fighting since 1997.
More recently, we discovered that one of the vaccines given to my son - DTAP - was from a batch of vaccines that stands as the number one ranking in deaths, the number one ranking in non-recoveries, and the fourth ranking in total events reported for all Connaught Labs DTAP vaccines. DTAP 7H81507, which was given to my baby was a Hot Lot.
I am serving a life sentence in Florida without the possibility of parole. I did not kill my son. His death was the result of the medical treatment he received and a fatal reaction to his childhood immunisations. Since my conviction, I have rallied the support of an armada of scientists, doctors, and organisations which support my innocence. Doctors and scientists from 15 countries, including the US, have stood up to support us; some of these are listed overleaf. We have numerous reports from experts whom after record review, have declared my innocence. Many are up in arms at the iatrogenic implications shown in the records.
Many reports by independent scientists can be seen at www.freeyurko.bizland.com. The report by Drs Harold E Buttram and F Edward Yazbak represents nearly 2,000 hours of review and research of the case. Several organisations have started legal fund campaigns. The International Chiropractic Association's Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics has established a fund which will not only help us defray the phenomenol costs of justice, but will help others in similar straits. Other organisations such as PAVE (Parents Advocating Vaccine Edu), ICHF (Intntl Council For Health Freedom), CCMRF (Common Cause Medical Res. Fndtn), TIP (The Informed Parent-UK) and the United Kingdom's National Vaccine Information Center (VAN-UK) are helping us in an effort to raise funds.
In addition, groups and organisations involved in health freedom and awareness are taking a stand to help us show this injustice and maybe prevent it from happening to others. There are many other families, like mine, who are being destroyed. We pray that you take interest and offer any assistance you can, whether it be professional or spiritual. This is not just about one family's injustice. It is about hundreds of families who have and will experience such tragedy.
In earnest, Alan R Yurko
Family and Supporters
We presently have over 500 supporters of which nearly 200 are doctors, scientists, health care professionals and experts as well as over 70 organizations on four continents that stand behind us. Below is a partial list:
Harold E Buttram MD, FAAEM…F Edward Yazbak, MD, FAAP…Jane M. Orient, MD, FACP (AAPS)…W Jean Dodds, DVM…Mary N. Megson, MD, FAAP…Prof C.Alan B.Clemetson, MD, FRSM, FACOG…Douglas R. Shanklin, MD, PhD, FRSM...Viera Scheibner, PhD…Harris Coulter, PhD…Susan Kreider, RN, CPC,CNOp…Archivides Kalokerinos,MB,BS,Ph.D… Richard Moskowitz, MD…Horace B. Gardner, MD, JD…Catherine Diodati, MA…Mike Godfrey,MB.BS, FACAM, FACNEM…Jana Shiloh, MA, CCH…Michael Culbert, DSc, PhD, (NHF, ICHF)…Dawn Richardson, (pres. PROVE)…Jock Doubleday (NWNM Inc)…Magda Taylor (TIP)…Marvin E. Miller, MD, FAAP, FACMG…Rita Hoffman, (pres. Anaphylaxis Action)…Hilary Butler, (IAS)…L.David Mirkin,MD,FCAP, FAAP,FASCP…Colin Paterson, MA,MSc,DM,FRCP,FRCPath…Alan Scohy, MD…Philip Incao, MD…Kris Gaublomme, MD…Meryl Dorey, (pres. AVN)…Lisa Jillani, (pres. PAVE)…Judith Coates, DI hom…Gary Krasner, (CFIC)…Guylaine Lanctot, MD…Bernard Rimland, Ph.D…Walene James, (founder VACLIB)…Edda West, (pres. VRAN)…Rebecca Carley, MD…Ingri Cassel, (pres. VacLib)…Don Harkins, (ed. IO)…Sherri Nakken, RN, MA…Maxine McMullen, DC, FICCP…Greg Wilson, BS…Molly Rangnath, (ed. ICA Rev)…Gunner Oedum, MD…Tad Lonergan, MD…Roy B. Kupsinel, MD…Joanna Karpasea-Jones, (dir. VAN-UK)...Yoshinobu Horiuchi, MD, Ph.D, (NIID-JP)…Dana Ullman, MPH, DHM…Patricia Kane MD…Tedd Koren, DC…Eva Snead, MD…Amnon Goldworth, Ph.D…William G. Kracht, DO, FAACP…Teddy H. Spence DDS, ND, D.Sc., Ph.D, NMD, MT…Barbara Mullarkey,(pres. IVAC)…Dr.med. Barbara Kramer...Toni Blake, MA, JD…Kizzie Exum, JD…Lyn Thomson, BVSc, MRCVS…Warren Bruhl DC, DICCP…Grace Girdwain, (cons., auth)… Christine.Anderson, DC, DICCP…Peter Baratosy, MD…Richard Neubauer, MD…Anthony Penepent, MD, MPH…Anne Attivissimo, (pres. L.I.V.I.N.G)…Drs. Renee & Alan Foster, DC…Patrick Holdsworth, (VI/HA)…Maureen Hickman, (ACII,Carters Law Firm)…Donald Scott, MA, MSc, pres Common Cause Foundation, (edit Journal of Degenerative Diseases)
*** Please Contact Us And Add Your Name To Our Support List ***
To Support The Yurko Project:
The YURKO PROJECT
C/o Mrs. Francine Yurko
or you may send in
C/o The Chiropractors Hero Fund (Yurko Project)
Po Box 585965
Orlando, FL 32858-5965
(Donations will be routed accordingly)
Alan does not have direct internet access...email messages are forwarded to him every week. If you send an email please forward a mailing address for return correspondence and/or feel free to contact him direct. See our website under Guidelines For Writing Alan if you wish to send Alan items other than correspondence.
Tel (407) 291-4344
(there's no "o" in world)
Dixon man on crusade for justice
By Timothy Van Zant
Sunday, December 15, 2002. Dixon, California
Reprinted here with permission from the Dixon Tribune
John Adams, the second president of the United States, once observed that “facts are stubborn things,” a proposition with which Dixon resident, Dr. Mohammed Al-Bayati, whose pioneering research of the toxicological roots of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) has received international attention, is in agreement.
“When I’m researching something, I only want to discover the facts,” he noted. Dr. Al-Bayati’s dedication has led to his involvement with a Florida criminal case appeal, and to some startling discoveries about Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
In November of 1997, Alan Yurko, a two and a half month old baby, died just three days after being admitted to Princeton Hospital in Florida. His father, Alan R. Yurko, was subsequently arrested, tried, and convicted by a jury in 1999, sentenced to spend his life plus ten years in prison. During the course of the appeal process, which is still underway, Dr. Al-Bayati became involved, utilizing his toxicological and pathological expertise to examine the evidence upon which Yurko’s conviction was based, and what Al-Bayati discovered, horrified him.
“They said they had examined the baby’s heart, but they didn’t, because it had already been harvested for donation; they did not review the child’s medical history, nor did they analyze the effects of the vaccines and medications that were in the baby’s system,” he observed.
“They sent an innocent man to jail,” he concluded. Dr. Al-Bayati is particularly sensitive to misuse of power. He fled Iraq not long after Saddam Hussein seized power, and several members of his family have been murdered by thugs of the regime in Baghdad.
Dr. Al-Bayati began his investigation by pursuing what he contends the medical examiner failed to do, determining the cause of death. His inquiries were based upon a scientific method as differential diagnosis. This process, simply put, seeks to eliminate all other possible causes of a certain reaction, by taking all the available evidence and known facts and going through a process of elimination.
Dr. Al-Bayati determined that the baby’s death was vaccine-and-medication induced; the reaction of the child’s system to an overload of drugs and antibiotics. Of equal interest were the implications his discovery, the product of approximately 250 hours of research, has for other SBS or SIDS cases. “No one has looked at the toxicological effects that medications may have on a segment of the population, and many cases labeled SIDS or SBS are probably something else,” he said.
Citing the Yurko case as an example, Dr. Al-Bayati noted how the child had been given high doses of sodium bicarbonate and heparin, which cause cardiac arrest and internal bleeding and produce symptoms similar to SBS. Dr. Al-Bayati was promoted to explore the toxicological avenue not only because that is his area of expertise, but also because the child did not develop SBS-like symptoms until after he was admitted to the hospital, and was thus separated from its parents.
Since Dr. Al-Bayati’s discovery of the toxicological causes of baby Yurko’s death, literally hundreds of health-care professionals have enrolled in the effort to free Alan Yurko, and are also exploring this previously overlooked source of both SBS and SIDS. Dr. Al-Bayati in company with many other professionals, is also involved in an effort to have the laws governing the rules of evidence changed to make differential diagnosis the standard in all court proceedings. “It is a process of elimination which only deals with facts and can’t be manipulated,” he stated.
Dr. Al-Bayati’s crusade for justice and science has made national news, most recently with the publication of his report by Nicholas Regush of ABC News on the Redflagsweekly.com website.
Criticism, blunders mar medical examiner's exit By Henry Pierson Curtis and Amy C. Rippel
Sentinel Staff Writers
August 31, 2003
Dr. Shashi Gore, the chief medical examiner for Orange and Osceola counties, is preparing to retire amid mounting criticism of his office and a state investigation into a flawed autopsy he conducted.
Gore and county officials said there is no link between his retirement, expected next summer, and the scrutiny that has put him and some of his associates on the defensive during the past year. Gore, 69, said he's retiring because he's getting older. He plans to continue working in the field by teaching.
"As it is today, I expect to retire by the latest June of next year," Gore said. "There is no problem. Nobody is forcing me out."
Each year, Gore and his assistants at the morgue on Lucerne Terrace in Orlando investigate hundreds of violent, suspicious and unnatural deaths. And every autopsy they perform can have profound consequences.
One case in particular, the death of 23-month-old Dany Lopez, became a cause célèbre among defense attorneys questioning the expertise and independence of his office.
Dany was suffering from devastating injuries when he was rushed from Volusia County to Florida Hospital in Orlando for emergency surgery one October night in 2001.
Lengths of intestine were crushed and dead, and had to be cut away. Feces had leaked into the child's stomach. Bruises covered the toddler's face, chest, back and abdomen. An adult-sized bite mark discolored one thigh. Tearing of his anus likely indicated rape.
'Very probably a homicide'
Nurses and doctors -- including the head of Volusia County's Child Protection Team -- called the injuries obvious signs of child abuse.
Some classified Dany's case as "very probably a homicide" when he died a day after his surgery Oct. 6, 2001.
Despite these opinions, Dr. Sara Irrgang of the Orange-Osceola Medical Examiner's Office reached this conclusion in January 2002: The toddler was not a victim of child abuse at all; his death was caused by tripping and falling onto his baby bottle.
Outrage over Irrgang's conclusion propelled a 19-month investigation to overturn the finding of accidental death.
Gore, Irrgang's boss, agreed to review the case in June 2002 after the head of Volusia County's Child Protection Team threatened to ask the state Medical Examiners Commission to intervene.
Almost a year later -- after Volusia County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Beaver called the death a homicide -- Gore concluded the boy had been killed.
Timothy Ceglarek, 23, of Orange City, was charged in June of this year with aggravated child abuse. Ceglarek, boyfriend of the child's mother, pleaded not guilty.
While the Dany Lopez case has sparked the most reaction in Central Florida's medical and legal communities, it is not the only one critics cite to challenge the credibility of Gore's office.
The Florida Department of Health is investigating Gore himself after he mistakenly described a child as being black in an autopsy report when the baby, in fact, was white. He also gave a detailed description of the child's heart in the autopsy report. But there was no heart in the body. It already had been harvested for an organ donation.
The baby's father, Alan Yurko, 33, is serving a life sentence and is now seeking a new trial, claiming Gore's mistakes in the 1997 autopsy, in part, led to his conviction of shaking his 10-week-old son to death.
To Gore, Orange County's third-highest-paid employee at $159,000 a year, controversy is part of working at the Medical Examiner's Office.
"If you do one thing that [the families and friends of the deceased] don't like, then you're damned," he said. "If you don't do the thing they would like you to do, you are damned on the other side as well. It's a tough job."
Gore's contract expires in June, but he's not sure he will even stay that long.
His likely successor, Dr. Jan Garavaglia, is expected to become deputy chief medical examiner in September.
Garavaglia, a board-certified forensic pathologist from Texas recruited by Orange County, is being hired with the understanding that Gore will support her to replace him in June, records show.
Garavaglia, who will make $170,000 a year, worked as an associate medical examiner in Atlanta and Jacksonville before working at the Medical Examiner's Office in San Antonio.
"I've worked in some of the best offices in the country, and I hope to bring this office up to those standards," said Garavaglia, who added that she wants every doctor in the office to be board certified in forensic pathology.
Steve Triggs, Orange County Chairman Rich Crotty's spokesman, said bringing in Garavaglia now will ensure a smooth transition when Gore leaves. The move, he said, has nothing to do with the ongoing controversy associated with the office.
County officials want a board-certified forensic pathologist in command, because Gore's lack of certification prevented the morgue from seeking official accreditation.
The work that Gore and his three assistants perform can clear suspects of murder, help send others to prison and answer questions about the mysteries of death.
Known mistakes are few, but even rare cases of changed death findings concern the new chief of Florida's Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
"I, as a defense attorney, would be very concerned if a medical examiner or assistant medical examiner came up with one result, and then law-enforcement officers put pressure on an office, and someone else changed that result," said lawyer David Fussell of Orlando. "These individuals are supposed to be independent scientists."
The head of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association said changed findings should be rare. However, he said, they do show a morgue's review process is working.
"Probably being a doctor or medical examiner is like being a mechanic: Sometimes you fix the car; sometimes you don't," Leon County State Attorney Willie Meggs said from his office in Tallahassee.
The change in the Dany Lopez case took 19 months after the baby-bottle finding and occurred only after intense pressure from medical and legal professionals.
The repercussions, critics say, are obvious: First, the new finding creates a criminal case when previously one did not exist. Second, it injects a major element of doubt into the coming trial.
Ceglarek's lawyer, James Crock of Daytona Beach, already is criticizing the case against his client as he attacks Gore's motives.
"Our position is he's succumbing, essentially, to backroom political pressure," said Crock, suggesting that investigators intimidated Gore into changing the autopsy conclusion.
Irrgang, who did not return telephone messages, remains convinced she's correct.
"She still believes it is accidental in nature," Gore said. "That's why I'm the supervisor. I have to correct that."
In the Yurko case, Gore blamed himself for mixing up the race of the child. But he blamed miscommunication for describing the heart that was not there.
While dictating autopsy notes in the death of 10-week-old Alan Ream-Yurko, Gore said, he referenced a report from an organ-donation service that described the boy's heart. Gore said the secretary transcribing the tape thought he was describing a heart he had removed from the child.
Describing the child as black was "an error, and I corrected it," he said.
Yurko hopes the mistakes will win him a new trial.
"What the public should expect is good, accurate, scientifically proven diagnosis," said Dr. Stephen Nelson, head of the state Medical Examiners Commission, who said there have been no formal complaints filed against Gore or his office.
"This is, however, an area that does attract attention."
Gore's hiring of his newest associate medical examiner, Dr. Marie Hansen, is another move that brought unwanted attention to the office.
In 1998, Hansen botched an autopsy so badly in Pasco County that an innocent man was charged with first-degree murder. The mistake was not discovered until last year, when a new chief medical examiner for the Pasco and Pinellas office reviewed the case and forced Hansen to resign, records show.
By then, David Long had been indicted in the shaken-baby death of his 7-month-old daughter, been sent to jail, spent $100,000 in legal fees, lost his job and filed for bankruptcy, according to an interview and county records.
Long, now 41, is suing Hansen in civil court. "Essentially, they ruined his life," said Long's lawyer, Alan Gross of St. Petersburg. Gore and top Orange County health officials hired Hansen in November without reading her pre-employment background investigation. The report included the botched autopsy and forced resignation. "It was a small mistake she did," Gore said. "She was under the care of her chief, so it doesn't bother me. Her work now is excellent."
Pete Clarke, deputy director of Orange County Health and Family Services, said someone faxed him a newspaper article about Hansen's lawsuit, and he asked her to explain. "She stood by her autopsy," he said. "Maybe she was right, though. Sometimes you just don't know."
Hansen did not return phone calls.
Controversy flared from the day Gore took the job in February 1996 -- after he was hired over finalists with far superior medical credentials. What won him the job were his compassion, management style and 30 years of experience, including service as Seminole County's chief medical examiner, according to interviews with members of a search committee chaired by Orange-Osceola State Attorney Lawson Lamar.
Hiring standards twice needed to be lowered before Gore could apply.
At first, an applicant had to be a board-certified forensic pathologist -- a title that requires five to six years of postdoctoral study and is considered the field's top credential by the American Board of Pathology. Gore is not board certified in any medical specialty. The search eventually opened to doctors with six years of morgue experience. The panel picked Gore by a unanimous vote over five forensic pathologists.
Only one other of Florida's 22 chief medical examiners -- in Collier County -- is not a board-certified pathologist.
Certification is increasingly required at morgues throughout the country, according to the National Association of Medical Examiners.
"It's a nice credential, but it's not a prerequisite," Lamar said. "Dr. Gore has a leadership style that did bring that office back together. There was some unhappiness between some different people, and he did a great job of bringing them back together."
Gore took on a nearly impossible task of restoring order to a staff split by vicious infighting.
"Some . . . colleagues expressed anxiety about my entering into a 'Hornets' Nest,' " Gore wrote Lamar in January 1996. "But I think that, with an armamentarium of potent insecticides and an impervious shield of confidence, I will be able to subdue and keep them under my control."
Much of the conflict in the office stemmed from the removal of Gore's predecessor, Dr. Thomas Hegert, who had held the job for 40 years. County officials publicly feted Hegert's "retirement" Nov. 1, 1995, but court records show he was forced to resign over an office affair that split the staff into factions. Hegert did not return repeated messages for comment.
Controversy surged again last year when Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. William Anderson resigned after accusing Gore of pressuring him to change the cause of death in the March 1998 death of a Rollins College student. At the time, Anderson faced firing after county investigators accused him of doing private work on county time. A short time later, county officials considered firing Gore for the same reason.
The county backed down when Gore cited a state law allowing a chief medical examiner to do private work. Gore agreed to stop doing private work at the county-owned morgue. "Being a medical examiner is a walk on the tightrope," Gore said. "We are exposed to all types of assaults coming from different areas." Even so, Gore said, he's proud of his tenure as medical examiner. "I'm so satisfied that small things don't bother me," he said. "I like people here. I get support from everybody, and I'm happy."
Henry Pierson Curtis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5257. Amy C. Rippel can be reached at email@example.com or 407-420-5736.
Copyright © 2003, Orlando Sentinel
Sponsored by State to Gore: Do no autopsies The action was the strictest ever taken in Florida against a chief medical examiner. By Henry Pierson Curtis and Amy C. Rippel
Sentinel Staff Writers
February 13, 2004
A state board Thursday barred Orange-Osceola Medical Examiner Shashi Gore from doing any more autopsies until he retires in June.
It was the strictest discipline ever taken against a chief medical examiner in Florida and comes at a time when Gore is under scrutiny in other cases.
The unanimous decision by the state Medical Examiner's Commission came after it ruled Gore committed eight mistakes in an infant's autopsy. Gore's finding contributed to the child's father being sentenced to life in prison for shaking the baby to death.
Commissioners said they were prepared to remove Gore from office if he weren't already planning to retire.
"Any one of these individually would have been a problem," Dr. Jon R. Throgmartin, chief medical examiner of Pasco and Pinellas counties, said of the errors in Gore's autopsy of Alan Ream-Yurko. "We should stop Dr. Gore from doing any more autopsies until his retirement."
The most serious mistake was Gore's detailed description of the inner heart muscle. Gore never examined the heart because it was removed and successfully transplanted before the autopsy, Throgmartin told the meeting.
It is not known what bearing, if any, the autopsy errors will have on the imprisoned father's bid for a new trial. The commission did not address Gore's finding that the infant had been shaken to death.
Gore was placed on probation until his retirement June 30, but until then he will remain as administrator of the morgue on Lucerne Terrace in Orlando.
He did not attend the afternoon meeting in the Adam's Mark Hotel in south Orange County but later defended his findings.
"There is no material misrepresentation anywhere, and the core information is based totally on the scientific facts," Gore said Thursday night. "I have full confidence that any experienced forensic pathologist will not go against my finding as to the cause of death and the manner of death."
On Wednesday he had promised the commission in writing that he would stop doing autopsies because of the complaint against him.
Thursday's discipline was the first of its kind against a chief medical examiner since the statewide medical examiner's system was established in 1970, said Dr. Stephen J. Nelson, the commission's chairman.
The Yurko case has drawn international attention since 1999, when the infant's father, Alan Yurko, began serving life in prison. Supporters claim the 10-week-old died in 1997 from reaction to a vaccine.
His supporters had filed a complaint against Gore with the commission, which oversees the state's 22 medical examiners.
Yurko's wife, Francine, said Gore's mishandling of the autopsy warrants a new look at her husband's case.
"People have been found guilty on his word. Who knows what other evidence that he's screwed up on?" she said of Gore. "Obviously, his work is not competent."
She attended the hearing and later said she was not satisfied with the discipline.
"A man sits in prison based on his word, and here's this guy allowed to ride out the rest of his term on the county's payroll," she said. "I don't understand that."
Her husband, in prison at Century Correctional Institution near Pensacola, has asked for a new trial.
Gore's major errors included misidentifying the white child as black and then altering his report after the trial without notifying the court, the commission found.
He also did not document what he described as laboratory studies of fractures of several of the infant's ribs, a report of the findings stated.
Throgmartin, who chaired the review of the autopsy, urged his seven colleagues to remove the scalpel from Gore's hands to "prevent any further damage or similar cases from happening."
Also attending the meeting was Orange-Osceola State Attorney Lawson Lamar, whose office used Gore's testimony to help convict Yurko.
"We're going to look at the facts and go back and see if there's anything that should concern us," said Lamar, who said his staff assured him there were no problems with the conviction.
Lamar headed a search committee in 1995 that selected Gore, who holds no advanced certification in pathology, over five board-certified forensic pathologists, which is the highest credential for the specialty.
"It does hurt our feelings to see the case go this way," Lamar said.
Gore has been at the center of several controversies since the late 1990s.
Most recently, Gore's ruling of an accidental overdose in the 1998 death of Jennifer Kairis, a student at Rollins College, was challenged last month by three current or former associate medical examiners who say it was a homicide.
Last fall, a man charged with murder in his wife's death and held without bail for 10 months was released when Gore told the court he could not support his autopsy findings that the woman had been poisoned with cadmium.
Orange County officials became so concerned about Gore's ability to manage that last fall, they hired Dr. Jan Garavaglia, a board-certified forensic pathologist, to replace him before he announced his intention to retire.
Garavaglia and other Orange-Osceola associate medical examiners were ushered out of Thursday's meeting by a county employee shortly before the discussion of Gore's discipline.
County spokesman Steve Triggs said the employee misunderstood a suggestion that it might be better if Garavaglia didn't sit through the criticism of her boss.
"As far as we're concerned, she's been groomed to take over," Triggs said of plans to have Garavaglia oversee autopsies until Gore leaves.
Henry Pierson Curtis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5257. Amy C. Rippel can be reached at email@example.com or 407-420-5736.
Copyright © 2004, Orlando Sentinel
The American mass vaccination agenda: Beyond medical experimentation into the realm of mass murder, genocide
Boy meets girl. They fall in love, obtain a license from the state to get married and make plans to start a family. When baby day arrives, the expectant mother is rushed to the hospital to give birth. Most parents will forever remember that period between the onset of labor and the moment someone says, “It's a boy,” or, “It's a girl” as the most intensely emotional experience of their lives. During that time we feel powerless and every ounce of love and hope that parents feel for their soon-to-be-born baby is entrusted into the care of their doctor and the attendant nursing staff.
Until recently, very few people questioned their doctors when the nurses took our newborn babies away to be “cleaned up.” That was before we realized that unnecessary medical interventions such as vitamin K and hepatitis B injections are often given at this time. Increasing numbers of parents are experiencing the horror of failing to question “routine” post-natal vaccinations. In fact a local coroner is reportedly processing record numbers of infant deaths. He said that these mothers all say the same thing: “My baby was so healthy and vibrant until I took him in for his shots...”
We are also experiencing a shaken baby syndrome (SBS) witch hunt in this country. Violet Harris has looked into six different SBS cases in and around Boise, Idaho and found out that in each case, both malnutrition and vaccines were involved. All parties claim innocence. The prosecutors in all cases refuse to look at the vaccine connection --and the victims, the alleged “shakers”, are being locked up in our state's prisons.
Why is it that suddenly vaccine injury and death is becoming the rule rather than the exception? There are many reasons but the foundation of it appears to be the fact that the human genome is being altered by vaccines. By injecting increasing quantities of foreign (human and animal) RNA and DNA, toxic metals and poisonous chemicals into our bloodstreams, our own genetic structure is changed and those changes are passed onto our children. Already compromised by mutations within ourselves (hence epidemic cancer, auto-immune dysfunction, sociopathic behavior and addiction to pharmaceutical drugs) the current generation of babies are “at risk” from the time they are born. Begin dosing them with vaccines soon after birth and the likelihood of an adverse reaction increases.
If they do not die from the post-natal vaccines; if they don't die from the barrage of some 35 vaccinations recommended by the federal government by age five; if they do not develop physical and mental complications such as multiple sclerosis or autism they may produce children of their own. What type of hope for humanity is there when we have been so altered that our offspring no longer provide viable offspring?
We are no longer mincing words. It is too late for that. As a matter of editorial policy there is no reason to say, Vaccines are linked to sudden infant death, learning disabilities and chronic disease. By using the word linked we journalistically side-step what we know from science and experience to be the cold, hard reality of mass vaccination.
The truth is that vaccines can cause sudden infant death; vaccines can cause learning disabilities; vaccines can cause the infections that lead to the development of chronic diseases. We cannot even begin to describe the extent of what is happening with regard to public health policies mandating “medical experimentation' via vaccinations. It is iatrogenocide.
Fortunately people are waking up to this fact. Anti-vaccination activists all over the world are networking, sharing information and building coalitions.
Vaccination Liberation is the perfect example of this grassroots momentum. According to VacLib president Ingri Cassel, Since the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act has been introduced to state legislatures, people have been contacting us with renewed interest in getting a VacLib chapter going in their respective states.” In fact, VacLib chapters now include Idaho, South Idaho, Wyoming, New Jersey, Florida, and Pennsylvania. States in the process of joining the VacLib network are Alaska, Washington, Montana, Ohio and Louisiana. Once parents realize that the myriad of health problems their children are experiencing can be directly linked to the vaccines they have thus far received, they become angry and want to direct that anger at someone. VacLib national then redirects their energy into sharing this relatively unknown information with their respective communities and, ultimately, the entire state. As more people in each state become members of their state chapters, an effective network is established. This statewide network has the potential to initiate the changes needed in their respective state's laws to allow both philosophical and religious exemptions and, hopefully, overturn state vaccine mandates. If you are interested in joining the VacLib network, call (208) 255-2307
When you think about it, the concept of herd immunity is absurd. Pro-vaccinators desire a 100-percent vaccination rate to protect the “herd” from infectious diseases. If vaccines really “work,” why would the vaccinated be endangered by the unvaccinated? If vaccines really worked, then the unvaccinated could not infect the vaccinated.
The Idaho Observer
P.O. Box 457
Spirit Lake, Idaho 83869
The 'experts' who made parents into criminals
Allison Pearson, Evening Standard
30 April 2003
"The greatest medical scandal of our times," is what Dr James Le Fanu calls it. He is referring to Shaken Baby Syndrome. Thousands of parents have been wrongly accused of abusing their children because the medical profession, in its arrogance, has taken a certain set of symptoms to be evidence of severe battering, rather than accepting an explanation that a child may have simply fallen.
Paul and Joanne, a lovely London couple I know, recently lived through the hell of being accused of harming their baby daughter. Taking the baby to casualty after she rolled off a sofa, they found themselves in a Kafkaesque nightmare, with every protestation of innocence treated as further proof of guilt.
"Denial is highly indicative of abuse," says one smug paediatrician cited by Dr Le Fanu. In other words, unless parents confess, they must have done it.
For years, doctors have insisted that severe injuries, such as haemorrhages in the eye, could not be caused by the trivial accidents parents claimed had taken place. The drawback to this position was obvious: no one had ever pushed an infant off the sitting-room sofa in an experiment to see what damage would result.
Instead of proceeding with caution, however, "experts" gave damning evidence of Shaken Baby Syndrome to the Family Court, while bewildered parents, numb with shock and grief, saw their children removed to foster homes. Some of the accused were jailed.
Paul and Joanne were not trusted to take their daughter home. Only the promise that they would never be alone with her - that there would always be a third person present - saved their ninemonthold from being taken to the fearful place we call "care". Any protest was impossible because, if the family went public, the court would seize the child.
In a bitter irony, this family was going through hell in one part of our city at the same time that medical and social services were failing to notice that Victoria Climbie was being tortured in another.
How much easier and more satisfying to torment an innocent middle-class family, who had taken their child to hospital in good faith, than to confront some evil brutes who went to every length to keep the little girl in their charge from proper treatment and diagnosis.
Well, now it has become clear that there is no such thing as Shaken Baby Syndrome. A pathologist has proved that in 18 independently witnessed accidents, trivial falls produced exactly those injuries which were meant to be consistent with violent abuse. And what do we hear from the experts? A thunderous silence. And from the secretive and draconian Family Court? An apologetic cough.
The Shaken Baby Scandal could be the source of some of the most grotesque miscarriages of justice this country has seen. There is an urgent need for a public inquiry. Each case will need to be re-examined. The jailed must be freed.
Then decent, loving people like Paul and Joanne, who live in fear of their toddler falling off her tricycle lest the cuts and bruises be deemed to have a sinister origin, can be taken off the legal blacklist.
At long last, the cries of shaken parents can be heard.
TITLE: The Shaken Baby Syndrome. A Clinical, Pathological, and Biomechanical Study
AUTHORS(S): Ann-Christine Duhaime, MD., Thomas A. Gennarelli, MD., Lawrence E. Thibault, ScD., Derek A. Bruce, MD., Susan S. Margulies, MSE., and Randall Wiser, MSE
CITATION: Journal of Neurosurgery, 1987, March, Vol. 66, No. 3
Because a history of shaking is often lacking in the so- called "shaken baby syndrome", diagnosis is usually based on a constellation of clinical and radiographic findings. Forty-eight cases of infants and young children with this diagnosis seen between 1978 and 1985 at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia were reviewed. All patients had a presenting history thought to be suspicious for child abuse, and either retinal hemorrhages with subdural or subarachnoid hemorrhages or a computerized tomography scan showing subdural or subarachnoid hemorrhages with interhemispheric blood. The physical examination and presence of associated trauma were analyzed; autopsy findings for the 13 fatalities were reviewed. All fatal cases had signs of blunt impact to the head, although in more than half of them these findings were noted only at autopsy. All deaths were associated with uncontrollably increased intracranial pressure.
Models of 1-month old infants with various neck and skull parameters were instrumental with accelerometers and shaken and impacted against padded or unpadded surfaces. Angular accelerations for shakes were smaller than those for impacts by a factor of 50. All shakes fell below injury thresholds established for subhuman primates scaled for the same brain mass, while impacts spanned concussion, subdural hematoma, and diffuse axonal injury ranges. It was concluded that severe head injuries commonly diagnosed as shaking injuries require impact to occur and that shaking alone in an otherwise normal baby is unlikely to cause the shaken baby syndrome.
Feb. 8-14, 2002
STICKS AND BONES
Alice and Miguel Velasquez couldn't explain the bump on their daughter's rib cage to themselves or to their doctor. How, then, could they explain it to Alexandria's Child Protective Services?
On Feb. 3, 2000, Alice and Miguel Velasquez took their daughter Liliana for a routine well-baby visit at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. They were concerned about a lump on the left side of their 4-month-old's rib cage.
Alice, 22, an Army medical-lab technician, had discovered a slight protrusion while handling Liliana a few days earlier. The lump was not visible to the eye but could be felt by running a hand across the child's ribs. She thought of calling Liliana's pediatrician, but the child didn't seem to be in pain when the spot was touched.
Alice's husband, Miguel, 30, a flooring contractor from El Salvador, wasn't home at the time, so she called her grandmother in Indiana to ask for advice. "Liliana is just fine," the older woman assured her. When Miguel returned, he also felt the lump. Unconvinced that it was nothing, he told his wife that they should definitely show it to the doctor when Liliana went for her checkup.
When the couple brought the lump to the attention of the intern who examined Liliana, they say, he dismissed their worries at first. "He said it was probably a calcium deposit, and that she appeared happy and healthy," says Alice. Still, she pressed him. With a history of spinal disorders such as scoliosis and spina bifida in her family, Alice wanted to be sure that the bump wasn't an early indicator of one. "I was hoping if an X-ray caught the signs early, that it could be corrected."
When the couple persisted in their concern, the intern brought in staff pediatrician Dr. Paul Reed, who consented to X-rays for Liliana. Radiologist Donald Flemming performed the X-rays and detected five rib fractures in various stages of healing, as well as three additional suspected rib fractures.
The extent of the baby's injuries prompted Reed to immediately contact Capt. Barbara Craig, a doctor and the director of the Armed Forces Center for Child Protection, as well as Child Protective Services (CPS) in Alexandria, Va., where the Velasquezes were living. Social workers immediately came to the hospital to interview Miguel and Alice.
Liliana was transferred from Bethesda and kept overnight at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The next evening, after the social workers obtained a court order, Liliana was taken into city custody and placed in a foster home.
The Velasquezes claim they had no idea what had happened to cause their daughter's injuries, and were adamant that they had done nothing to cause them. They never imagined that for the next year and a half they would be faced with the impossible task of convincing the city that their daughter's injuries were caused by a rare bone disease they had never even heard of.
Nor could the Velasquezes foresee that another family's experience with Alexandria social services would affect their battle to regain custody of their daughter after the disease was identified. Alice and Miguel had no idea that they would be seen as an opportunity for a city agency under scrutiny to redeem itself.
"While we were going through all of this, the Katelyn Frazier case happened," says Alice. "That made everything a lot harder."
Doctors who discover injuries that appear to be nonaccidental in children are required to notify the proper authorities, usually the jurisdiction's child-welfare agency and/or law enforcement officials. Any doctor who fails to make such a report can face steep fines and possibly imprisonment, depending on state statutes.
Once social workers become involved, they, too, must adhere to specific regulations, in their case dictating how they investigate reports of suspected child abuse or neglect. Virginia receives more than 33,000 reports of possible abuse or neglect each year; its city and county social workers are required to investigate each and every one.
The social workers must decide whether long-term intervention is warranted and whether the child should be taken into protective custody. The investigation process includes talking with the parents—and child, if the child is old enough—face to face, making home visits, and checking for past reports of abuse against any adult members of the household. If social workers find that a report of abuse is founded, they devise a long-term foster-care plan with the family and continue to monitor both parents and child. Parents must meet certain conditions before they are able to regain custody. Usually, they are required to take parenting classes and undergo individual therapy. If they are cooperative and complete the requirements, the family can be reunited.
On its Web site, the Virginia Department of Social Services, which oversees local jurisdictions, states its goal as reuniting families: "Even if the child must be temporarily removed for safety, the goal is to return the child to the home as soon as possible."
Miguel and Alice Velasquez agree that in the beginning stages of their involvement with the social safety net, both the military doctors and the Alexandria social workers who placed their daughter in foster care were doing their jobs correctly. "I've worked in a hospital," says Alice. "If I'd found a child with even one rib fracture, I would've acted the same way."
Two high-profile local cases of child abuse, however, have shifted the goals of child-welfare agencies in both Alexandria and the District of Columbia. Area social-service agencies' traditional emphasis on family reunification has come into question following the deaths of two little girls who might still be alive had they not been returned to their birth mothers.
Twenty-three-month-old Brianna Blackmond was killed on Jan. 6, 2000, two weeks after D.C. child-welfare workers restored legal custody to her mother, Charrisise Blackmond. Brianna had been taken away from her mother in June 1998 after a social worker discovered her and seven siblings living in filth and rummaging through trash trying to find food. She was immediately placed in foster care.
The events that led to Brianna's return to her mother were a series of egregious oversights. The social worker handling Brianna's case failed to complete her recommendation that Brianna not be returned in time for a court hearing. While both the social worker and the attorney representing the city were on vacation, a D.C. Superior Court judge approved a motion entered by Charrisise Blackmond's lawyer to return Brianna to her mother—without a hearing. No one made a home visit before the child was returned. Anyone who had would have discovered that Charrisise Blackmond and several of her children were illegal tenants in the public-housing unit inhabited by Angela O'Brien, the woman who would later kill Brianna with a blow to the head.
Three-year-old Katelyn Frazier was fatally injured two days after Christmas 2000 while in the custody of her mother, Pennee Frazier. Their Alexandria apartment was shared with Frazier's boyfriend, Asher Levin, and three siblings. Katelyn had spent the majority of her life in a foster home under the care of Lesley Dodson, who had sought to adopt the child. Dodson's hopes were dashed in September 2000, when a judge decided to return Katelyn to her birth mother. She had been back in her mother's care only three months when she was killed. Levin later confessed to beating the toddler to death.
Unlike the Brianna case, in which a child seemed to fall through the cracks of a beleaguered child welfare system, the Katelyn case received an enormous amount of attention from city social workers—even after the child was reunited with her mother. The Washington Post reported that Katelyn was the subject of more than 15 court hearings to determine her placement, and social workers visited Pennee Frazier's home more than 30 times during the three months she had her daughter back. But somehow they missed what neighbors and friends later reported: Shortly after returning to her mother's apartment, Katelyn began showing bruises and other obvious signs of abuse.
Katelyn's death outraged community members. Residents have demanded that CPS be held accountable for what many believe was a mishandling of the case.
"[Katelyn] was too young to insist that the Alexandria [Department of Human Services] do its job...which was to make sure that whoever was entrusted with the care of this very vulnerable child did the right thing by her," said one angered community resident in an opinion piece published in the Fairfax Journal.
In July 2001, the city announced it would implement changes outlined in a review of Alexandria CPS conducted by the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA). The report, which criticized the department's handling of the Frazier case, offered recommendations to improve the agency's case monitoring.
The city was effective in its damage control until it was discovered that the CWLA's report had been edited, with portions unflattering to CPS removed, before City Manager Phil Sunderland distributed it to city councilmembers in June.
With its social-service agencies under intensified scrutiny, Alexandria was probably the worst possible jurisdiction for a family lobbying for the return of a child.
Sources who work closely with Alexandria CPS say that although de-emphasizing family reunification is not a formal policy reform, they have anecdotal evidence that it's happening all over the city. One source describes the agency as being in "crackdown" mode and says that employees are overcompensating, keeping families apart, because they are "very scared" of making another mistake.
Because of legal constraints, most of the people involved in the removal of Liliana Velasquez from her parents' care were unable to comment on the case for this story. "We have stringent confidentiality rules that apply to social-services work—we can't even acknowledge that we have any case under our care or anything attendant to that. We can actually be charged with a misdemeanor if we do so," explains Meg O'Reagan, director of Alexandria's Department of Human Services. Her department oversees the city's Family Services Division,which includes CPS.
Attorneys George McAndrews, who represents the city, and Russell Hatchell, who represents Liliana's interests in court proceedings, also declined to comment.
"The Frazier case had caused us more problems than we might have had otherwise," says Dorothy Isaacs, an attorney who agreed to represent Alice and Miguel Velasquez pro bono in February 2001. "[The] Alexandria [Department of Human Services] is sensitive right now, and I can't say I blame them. They really screwed up with [the Katelyn Frazier] case."
During their initial interview at the naval hospital, Alice tried to defend her husband to CPS social workers Jackie Lusk and Johnny Simancas. She explained how Miguel cared for their daughter during the day while she was at work. She told them how he drove from their home to her office at the Pentagon and back again twice each day because she hadn't wanted to stop breast-feeding after she returned to work. "Their response to me was 'Whose side are you on?'" says Alice.
"They asked me how much my husband drank and if he had been drinking that night," says Alice. "I told them that we're Mormons—we don't even drink sodas with caffeine."
The Velasquezes were puzzled by the social workers' immediate fingering of Miguel. "My husband couldn't hurt a flea! If anything, he's the one afraid of me! They just had it in their minds from the very beginning that it was him," says Alice.
"I don't even remember the walk from the hospital to the car—I just remember standing in the street and hearing Liliana crying as the car drove away," recalls Alice, crying. "Even after I couldn't see the car any longer, I could still hear her. I sat down on the curb and threw up."
The couple drove home through a snowstorm to an empty apartment. After hours of crying and worrying, they finally fell asleep. Alice would wake up a few hours later: "I heard her cry, and I got up to feed her. But when I went to the crib she wasn't there. I would turn on the lights and look everywhere for her until I realized. This went on for weeks and weeks."
During the course of the investigation, Miguel and Alice were told that if they could provide a reasonable explanation for their daughter's fractures, she would be returned to them. They immediately came up with a list of things that could have possibly happened to cause Liliana's injuries, some of which later came back to haunt them during court proceedings.
Perhaps one of them had rolled on her as she slept in their bed? Or maybe they had pressed on her belly too hard while trying to ease gas and constipation? Maybe her visiting older half-sister had somehow hurt her while they were playing? Miguel offered: "Maybe I hugged her too tight because I love her so much."
Despite their efforts to explain the origin of their daughter's fractures, Miguel was arrested on Feb. 17, 2000, for criminal child abuse and neglect. He says it was his first arrest and that his experience in jail was "very bad": "They just treat you like you're nothing in that place."
The Velasquezes were now faced with not only civil custody hearings and the CPS foster-care requirements but the possibility of a criminal trial as well.
Miguel remained in jail for only a few hours, but after Alice posted bail and he was released, he received the worst blow: Although CPS had granted both Miguel and Alice visitation time with their daughter, as a standard condition of his bond, Miguel was prohibited from seeing Liliana, meaning he could be jailed again if he came into contact with her.
Liliana stayed in foster care for the entire month of February. Alice regained custody of her daughter in March, but Miguel still wasn't allowed to see her. He moved in with his father temporarily, hoping that his court-appointed criminal attorney, Mary McGuire, would soon be able to successfully petition for an amendment to his bond, allowing him to move back home and see his daughter.
But being away from his family proved too much for Miguel to bear. At the beginning of May, he began visiting Liliana and Alice. However, on May 5, someone anonymously tipped off CPS that Miguel was spending time with his daughter. On May 12, Simancas, along with the Fairfax County police, came to the Velasquez home to take away Liliana and arrest Miguel.
Miguel and Alice both describe the scene as something "out of a movie." The cops came into the house in the middle of the night and found Miguel hiding in a bedroom closet. Alice was again left alone. The next morning, for the second time, Alice bailed her husband out of jail.
"We haven't been perfect in this process—it was a mistake," says Alice. "But I knew that if I was in [Miguel's] position and [Miguel] told me that I couldn't see our daughter, that I would hate him. His only crime was missing and wanting to see his daughter."
On May 1, 2000, Miguel was indicted by a City of Alexandria grand jury on the charge of felony child abuse and neglect. The crime typically carries a penalty of two to 10 years' imprisonment. A trial date was set for June.
One evening in February 2000, a few weeks after Liliana was first taken away, Miguel and Alice decided to watch television as a distraction. After a quiet dinner, they sat on the couch and idly flipped through the channels. There was a commercial for the news program 20/20 that mentioned a segment on a disease with a funny name—osteogenesis imperfecta.
A friend at church had mentioned the disease to them just that Sunday. "Have you heard of this?" the friend had asked, handing them some literature on the disease, which is characterized by bones that break easily. The couple decided to watch the prograó. They tuned in at 10 o'clock and learned about the hallmarks of "OI," as it is called—a bluish tint to the whites of the eyes, excessive perspiration, hyperflexibility, and inexplicable bone fractures—sometimes even before a child is born.
Miguel and Alice sat on the couch in silence throughout the entire program, not speaking even to express relief.
"We couldn't believe it—it all made sense. Liliana always sweated a lot and had a bluish tint to her eyes. When she was a baby, Miguel and I would argue about whether her eyes were brown or blue, because the tint was so strong," says Alice. "Even people at church and other family members noticed it. Then there is my family history of spinal problems and my hyperflexibility," she says, bending her elbow back into an impossible position.
"OI is 'brittle-bones' disease," explains Dr. Jay Shapiro of Baltimore's Kennedy Krieger Institute's Osteogenesis Imperfecta Clinic, which treats OI patients from around the world. "It's a disease where people are born with fragile bones—they can have fractures even while in the womb. Most continue to fracture throughout their lives. Some may have only three or four fractures over their lifetime and look fairly normal. Others, with more severe OI, can have growth problems and may be only 3 to 4 feet tall and have many fractures—20, 30, maybe even more."
There are an estimated 20,000 to 50,000 OI sufferers in the United States alone. In its mildest form, the disease may cause the bluish tint to the eyes, brittle teeth, and a slightly triangular face, but these indicators do not necessarily have to be present in a child with OI. Diagnosis is based on a combination of factors, including evaluation by doctors and geneticists, and, if necessary, lab testing. The disease may go undetected for years—or be misdiagnosed as child abuse.
Like OI, child abuse is often characterized by broken bones. Fractures in multiple stages of healing—especially rib fractures—are often present in both children with OI and children who are being battered. And, because these distinguishing characteristics are the same, children with OI are often suspected to be victims of abuse when they are first seen by doctors.
"You have a parent who walks in and presents exactly like someone who abuses their child," says Heller An Shapiro, director of the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation. "They bring in a child with injuries—fractures, bruises, etc.—and when asked how the injuries occurred, say, 'I don't know.' Well, that is exactly how someone who is abusing their child would respond, so they fit the profile. I have empathy for social workers in this sort of situation who are trying to piece together what's going on."
And, Heller An Shapiro notes, the disease is unfamiliar to many doctors and social workers. "We've worked hard to educate doctors, emergency-room personnel, and social workers, but it's not something that people see often, and it is highly unlikely that it would be diagnosed in its mildest form. Most doctors can spot the more severe types of OI, where the child might be in a wheelchair or have visible deformities. But for a child who looks normal and happens to have OI, the disease is rarely identified right away."
Because the disease is indeed rare and most people are unaware of its existence, the Velasquezes had a difficult time getting authorities to take their claims seriously. After seeing the 20/20 segment, Alice gathered all of the information she could find about OI and presented it to caseworker Lusk, who she says blew it off. She also approached Capt. Craig, who she says told her, "Don't believe everything you see on the Internet."
The couple say that even their respective court-appointed civil attorneys didn't seem interested in the information. But McGuire, faced with a desperate client looking at a decade behind bars, finally agreed to push for an OI test for Liliana. In May 2000, a judge granted the test, to be paid for by the court.
Later that month, Liliana was examined by two physicians in the genetics department of Children's Hospital. She was given a painful skin biopsy, involving the removal of a plug of skin from her forearm about the size of a pencil eraser. "I had to hold her while they took the skin sample," says Alice. "She was just screaming and looking at me like 'Mommy, why are you letting them do this to me?' It was terrible."
The skin sample was sent to the University of Washington's Department of Pathology for analysis in its Collagen Diagnostic Laboratory. The doctors at Children's Hospital also decided to give Liliana another complete set of X-rays, to confirm the presence of the previously diagnosed fractures. These new X-rays showed only five rib fractures—the additional three suspected fractures were not confirmed.
The results of the skin test came back in September. Although such test results usually come back in three weeks, the lab had also performed other studies, including DNA work, along with the collagen skin test. Genetic counselor Melanie Pepin, who works at the lab, says that such additional tests are often conducted "especially with the question of nonaccidental injury." The results confirmed what her parents had suspected: Liliana had tested positive for OI Type I, a mild form of the disease.
The city's civil prosecutor attempted to discredit the test as experimental and unreliable, and argued that the diagnosis of OI didn't preclude the possibility that Miguel could have still abused his daughter. Capt. Craig became a key witness in both lines of argument.
Craig declined to comment for this article, citing confidentiality regulations affecting active-duty military personnel, but she has made her opinions on the case apparent throughout court proceedings. In a November 2000 e-mail to Alexandria Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Roger Canaff, she wrote, "Do I think these parents cannot be trusted? Yes. Do I think Liliana will be further abused in their care? Yes? Can I prove this in court? No. Does she have OI? Maybe—probably....Will a judge or jury buy any of this? They will probably have sympathy on the poor parents who will cry and lie in telling about their ordeal against the mean doctors in the military. The OI, if present, is an extremely mild case and may not have anything to do with her fractures."
The prosecution also pointed out that Liliana had not experienced any new fractures during her year in foster care. Jay Shapiro says that when a child is removed from a home and does not experience new fractures, it often means that the child does not have OI and was being abused.
"Let's say you have someone who brings a child into the ER [with fractures]," Shapiro says. "The ER calls Social Services and the child is taken away. The child has another fracture while on his or her own. Then you have someone who brings a child into ER with many fractures, the child is put in foster home, and the child doesn't fracture again. Usually you can say with some degree of certainty that the first case is OI and the second is child abuse."
Shapiro adds, however, that there are exceptions to the rule. "That type of evaluation is probably good 96 percent of the time. In a couple of cases it may not be so clear. That is the loophole, where you're not 100 percent sure."
"It is true that even if a child has OI there could be real abuse going on," says Heller An Shapiro. "It makes all of the factors difficult to assess—especially in Virginia, where they are so anxious about making a mistake that they may make accusations even when clearly that isn't the case."
"Having OI doesn't mean a child can't be abused, but there is absolutely nothing in Miguel's history that could lead anyone to think he could possibly abuse his child," says Isaacs.
The prosecution also argued that the test for OI can be unreliable. Although the collagen skin test can yield a false negative result, a positive test is foolproof, says Heller An Shapiro: "They got it wrong when they argued about the OI test, calling it experimental. [Liliana] got a positive test. If an OI test is positive, it's positive. The positive success rate is 100 percent. The negative result is less reliable—an 85 to 90 percent success rate. But if someone tests positive, there is no question."
Pepin agrees the test, which has been in use since the early '80s, does not yield positives: "The issue in terms of the test's sensitivity isn't if a positive test confirms OI—a positive result confirms the presence of OI."
In December 2000, Miguel's felony charge was reduced to a misdemeanor in light of the new information pertaining to Liliana's OI. In January 2001, the Alexandria city attorney entered a nolle prosequi in the case—declining to prosecute for lack of evidence—after McGuire was successful in suppressing all of his pre-charge statements. His conversations with Reed, Craig, and even Lusk, prior to his arrest, were thrown out. Miguel says he wasn't read his Miranda rights before talking to doctors and social workers at Bethesda. Even though he wasn't being charged with a crime at the time, Miranda law applies to custodial investigations as well. All criminal charges against him were dismissed.
Miguel and Alice thought their daughter was finally coming home.
But the nolle prosequi in Miguel's criminal case had no bearing on either the civil custody proceedings or CPS's monitoring of the family. Instead of reinstating Liliana, the agency was able to keep her in the foster-care system on a technicality: It sustained an internal administrative finding against the parents—an action that affects civil custody.
McGuire had seen to it that all pertinent OI information went into Miguel's file in the criminal case. The court-appointed civil attorneys representing the couple at the time, however, had not done the same for the civil custody case.
"The administrative finding was sustained because they were supposed to submit the results of the OI test and didn't," says Isaacs. "Alice and Miguel rightfully thought that the OI finding was on record, so they didn't submit the doctors' reports. They said that Johnny Simancas told them that it was in the record. Because the parents were supposed to give additional info and didn't, the [administrative] finding was sustained."
CPS also argued that Miguel and Alice had failed to complete a key requirement of their foster-care plan—admitting their guilt.
"They said that they wanted us to stipulate our roles in her abuse and move beyond a victimization posture. We would have lied and said that we did it in a minute, just to get our child back, but it was a Catch-22," says Alice.
"They wanted us to say we were abusing our baby," says Miguel.
If the Velasquezes had admitted guilt, under the nolle prosequi, the misdemeanor case against Miguel could have been reopened, and the criminal charges could have been reinstated. If new evidence is introduced within one year in a nolle prosequi case, charges can be re-entered.
"In September, when the skin biopsy came back, if they would've apologized, I would've understood," says Alice.
"We want our names cleared," continues Alice. "Even when all of this is over, it will follow us. Whenever Liliana starts a new school, it's something that will be on record, something that everyone will know about. We just want an apology. We want them to admit they were wrong."
The Velasquezes believe that CPS focused on Miguel because of his race. "I think I was targeted because I am a Latino man," he says.
In addition to caring for Liliana, Miguel also has an older daughter, 7-year-old Cassandra, from a previous marriage. While married to his ex-wife, Roxanna Garay, and still living with Cassandra full time, he served as her primary caregiver. Cassandra has congenital heart disease, and Garay has testified that when her daughter's illness was at its most severe and she herself couldn't cope, it was her husband who stepped in and cared for the child.
"Miguel's ex-wife testified that he was a loving father—never abused her or their daughter," says Isaacs. "You know, I handle a lot of divorces, and the glowing testimony of an ex-spouse says a lot."
In a March 2000 hearing, Dr. Reed testified that Miguel had been "very flattened in his affect" and "emotionless" as Reed described Liliana's fractures to him.
"Miguel doesn't know what 'fractures' are," counters Alice. Miguel came to America from El Salvador in 1990, and although he speaks English quite well, she argues, medical terminology isn't something that even most native speakers are very familiar with, let alone someone who is still learning the nuances of the language.
"Miguel has language issues, and Alice isn't a lawyer, so there was some confusion," says Isaacs.
One statement that was brought out repeatedly by prosecutors during hearings was Craig's recollection that Miguel had confessed to lifting Liliana with one hand and "throwing" her to her mother "like a football" during his interview with her the day Liliana was brought to Bethesda.
"It's ridiculous. They don't even have football in Miguel's country—he would've never made that comparison!" says Alice.
Heller An Shapiro says that poor families of color are especially vulnerable to charges of child abuse, because social-service agencies often target such families. "That seems to be the profile that social workers and child-abuse experts have in mind. The other piece to that puzzle is young or inexperienced parents."
"There is no doubt in my mind that it is a class issue, but I wouldn't be surprised by racial motivations, either," says Isaacs. "People who can afford counsel, who are familiar with the legal system, and who know when to keep their mouths closed to avoid incriminating themselves—they're treated differently."
In addition to the agony of being separated from their daughter, Miguel and Alice also faced fears that Liliana was being neglected in her foster home. "[CPS] didn't think we were good parents, but they allowed her to be treated poorly in foster care," says Alice.
According to INOVA Alexandria Hospital records, Liliana was hospitalized seven times while under the care of foster mother Willie Mae Gray. Liliana was seen at INOVA Alexandria on May 26, May 27, July 5, Aug. 3, Nov. 12, Dec. 14, and, finally, on Dec. 19, 2000. Usually, she was brought in for malnutrition and diarrhea. Her parents were not notified by social workers of Liliana's trips to the emergency room.
But Alice had begun to notice worrisome changes in her daughter's demeanor. Whenever Liliana was brought to the CPS offices for visitation, she was always "dirty and exhausted," says her mother. Liliana's long hair was often matted to her head and was falling out in small patches. She usually wasn't dressed properly for the weather, adds Alice.
"She was always dirty. She stunk, had terrible diaper rash to the point of open, bloody lesions. I later found out she had several vaginal infections because she was not being cleaned properly," says Alice.
Alice and Miguel found out that their daughter was a frequent visitor to the emergency room only after she contracted pneumonia in December 2000 and was retained for nine days. A hospital employee told Alice that Liliana was a "frequent" visitor, and urged her to seek out a copy of her daughter's medical file. She was able to obtain the records and was shocked at what she found.
Alice became desperate to transfer her daughter from Gray's care and into another foster home. She frantically tried to contact her court-appointed civil attorney, to no avail: "He wouldn't return my calls."
It was at this point that Alice began contacting the media: "Fox 5, Eyewitness News—everybody but Jerry Springer." She was successful in gaining public attention. Both Channel 9 and the Spanish-language cable channel Univision planned spots profiling the family, which were aired in March 2001. The increase in visibility also brought them to Isaacs, whose firm was recommended to the family by an acquaintance.
"People treated us a lot differently after they found out our story was going to be on TV," says Alice. Liliana was placed in another foster home at the end of February. The family believes that Isaacs' involvement and the media attention they received were instrumental in their daughter's transfer.
Previously, CPS intervened in illnesses and injuries of children in foster care only if a caseworker reported a child as possibly being abused or neglected. But in June 2001, the city announced a "new-eyes approach" that requires investigation into any injuries sustained by a child in foster care. Currently the Velasquezes have physical, but not legal, custody of their daughter. Although she was finally returned to her parents' home in July 2001, the city still effectively has control over all decisions regarding her health, education, and welfare.
The Velasquezes moved to Maryland in late 2001. Alice, who remained on active duty during most of their ordeal, had left the Army that September. Because the couple could no longer pay Alexandria rent without military assistance, the decided to search for an apartment in the more affordable suburbs of Prince George's County. "Of course, that was another whole big issue," says Alice. "They tried to say that we were running away."
Although the Velasquezes moved only 20 minutes from their former home, because they left Virginia, they unknowingly invoked the Interstate Compact to Protect Children (ICPC). This legislation was designed to protect children placed across state lines for foster care and adoption, to ensure that they couldn't slip through the cracks. Under the ICPC, any adopted or foster child remains in the legal custody of the state for six months after any out-of-state move.
After completing all of Alexandria CPS's requirements, Miguel and Alice were devastated to learn that the agency would remain a part of their lives for an additional half-year. The ICPC monitoring period will expire in March, at which time they expect to regain full legal custody of their daughter.
In the meantime, the Velasquezes are attempting to move on with their lives. They are ecstatic to have Liliana back home, and they have a new addition to their family: baby Tahlia, born in October 2001. They are in the process of saving money to have Tahlia tested for OI. Currently, Alice is staying home with both children, and Miguel is supporting the family with contract construction work.
Miguel and Alice must constantly try to protect Liliana from activities that may cause additional fractures, while still trying to ensure that she has as normal a childhood as possible. "We watch her very carefully," says Alice. "We don't let her climb stairs or play on the playground by herself, and we have to watch her when she's around other kids. We also have a list from her doctor of activities she will never be able to do—like horseback riding and gymnastics."
Alice is writing a book about their experiences, not only to help her and her husband process it all, but also so that their daughter will have a record of the ordeal. "I don't want her to hate us. I want her, when she's old enough, to understand exactly what happened—to know how much we love her and that we never gave up on her. We never stopped fighting."
Miguel and Alice communicate with other parents of children with OI who have had similar experiences. At first, they sought out other families and support groups for counsel. Now, they say, they are beginning to give guidance themselves. "It's so incredibly sad. I've done a lot of research on OI, and other families, in almost every single case, have their child taken away, and it is sometimes years before the child is tested," says Alice.
"There was one family where the father served five years in prison before his child tested positive for OI," Alice continues. "After five years in jail, the father is scared to death to touch the kid, the mother is alienated from her husband after spending years wondering if he really did it, and the child doesn't really know his parents. You can't even tell that they're a family anymore. When I think about it, we're one of the lucky ones."
It is easy to see why Alice and Miguel feel lucky, despite their travails, upon seeing Liliana in action. The now-2-year-old girl is beautiful and bright. Although, like many toddlers she is initially reluctant around new people, once she warms up, she is lively. She runs around the house laughing and tries to draw on anything that will stand still. She talks and talks and talks to no one in particular and loves to give demonstrations of her many toys.
While Alice recounts the story of the fight for Liliana, Miguel tries to occupy his daughter in the living room. He plies her with ice cream, Powerpuff Girls cartoons, and games of peek-a-boo. Then he takes her for a quick bath and puts her in pink pajamas. Inevitably, however, the toddler decides she wants to be where the action is.
Liliana comes back into the room, crying with no tears, and climbs into her mother's lap. "Aww, was Daddy trying to make you go to sleep? Oh no, what a mean daddy!" says Alice playfully. Liliana mimics her mother and manages a garbled "mean daddy" of her own. Alice falls over in peals of laughter, stopping only when she notices Miguel grimacing. "Please, Alice," he says. "Don't teach her to say that." CP
Copyright © 2002 Washington Free Weekly Inc.
Mother: Parents being falsely accused
By John Bartlett
MEADVILLE — Lisa Mullenax lives under a shadow of suspicion cast by the death of her infant son in September 2002 and the murder charges filed against her husband in a Centre County case. Mullenax, who proclaims her husband's innocence and her own, said parents nationwide are falsely being accused in alleged shaken baby syndrome cases. Mullenax, living at her parent's East Fallowfield Township in Crawford County, would be happy for no more public scrutiny, but she believes her message is too important.
"I am 100 percent convinced of my husband's innocence. Our baby slept in my husband's arms every night," she said. "Physicians are considering only one thing (shaken baby syndrome) and parents are being blamed." She stepped into the news in Crawford County when she appeared in court Aug. 22 to support John Raymond McGee, who along with Heather McNamara is accused of seriously injuring their 2-month-old daughter in March. Mullenax said she wrote the couple to tell them of her research and that there could be many medical reasons for the injuries their child sustained that have nothing to do with child abuse.
"I would never want to advocate for a parent that abused their child," she said. "But before they are deemed guilty, the possible other causes need to be discounted. The tragedy is once a physician sees brain hemorrhages and retinal hemorrhages they jump to a conclusion of shaken baby syndrome." Police and Children and Youth Services then build a case to support that conclusion, she said. There is growing evidence that brain and retinal hemorrhages and associated injuries in infants have many causes, Mullenax said, holding a thick sheaf of papers of reports downloaded from the Internet or obtained directly from researchers.
Mohammed Ali Al-Bayati, a California pathologist and toxicologist retained by Mullenax and her husband, Alejandro Mendez Vargas, to examine their child's medical records, concluded that shaken baby syndrome was not the cause of death. Rather, he concluded the child's death likely resulted from a vitamin K deficiency coupled with several other factors that caused bleeding in the brain, Al-Bayati wrote in his report.
However, Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar stands by the conclusions reached by the doctors who treated the child, the determination of the county coroner and findings of criminal investigators. Gricar said in September at Vargas' preliminary hearing that he would pursue the death penalty. It was early in the afternoon of Aug. 27, 2002, when Vargas ran to a neighbor's home, carrying the limp body of his and Mullenax's 3-month-old son, Lucas. At the time, Mullenax was at a faculty meeting at the Centre County school where she taught Spanish.
The child was taken to Centre Community Hospital and then flown to Geisinger Medical Center, where he died Sept. 2, 2002. Mullenax said from the moment they arrived at the hospitals, the physicians and staff assumed it was a case of shaken baby syndrome. "We were requesting books to look at the terms they were telling us. We had no idea, we couldn't understand," she said.
Mullenax said in her heart she knew her husband could not be responsible, nor was she. It was not until researching the causes for bleeding in the brain and associated injuries in infants that she learned there were causes other than abuse. The investigation lasted nearly a year. Meanwhile, Mullenax and her husband moved back to Crawford County and in with her parents shortly after their child's death. They were in frequent contact with investigators, and their lawyer asked that if charges were filed, the couple be allowed to turn themselves in.
Instead, on Aug. 11 at about 5:30 p.m., state police, including a SWAT team, surrounded her parents' Hartstown-area home and took Vargas into custody. "I still don't know if I'll be charged," she said. With the help of a friend, Mullenax said she has researched numerous cases in addition to her own and has contacted 17 other people in Pennsylvania that she believes have been falsely accused. "We are not an isolated case," she said. Mullenax said she knows many people probably assume she's simply unable to see or accept the truth of what happened to her child.
"I'm not asking for anyone's sympathy," she said. "I just want the other side presented. I want physicians and others to rule out other possible causes before they accuse parents."
JOHN BARTLETT can be reached at (814) 724-6979,
870-1723 or by e-mail.
Prosecutor grilled by defense in baby-shaking trial
By Greg Moran
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
February 4, 2004
A deputy district attorney was called to testify yesterday in a baby-shaking trial in which a defense lawyer contends that he and a fellow prosecutor hid evidence favorable to the defendant. For about 30 minutes, prosecutor David Hendren answered a series of sometimes pointed questions from attorney Christopher Plourd, who is representing Christina Diaz. Diaz, the former operator of a home day-care business in Kensington, is accused in the death of 4-month-old Cooper Kuznitz. Hendren was the initial prosecutor on the case. It was re-assigned at the end of July to Garry Haehnle, who also is expected to be called
as a witness.
Hendren is one of five candidates seeking the Superior Court seat opened by the retirement of Judge Richard Haden. Prosecutors contend the child was shaken violently, causing his brain to swell. The main evidence against Diaz centers on bleeding in the child's eyes, which the prosecution says definitively shows the child was shaken. Plourd told jurors the child died of other, undetermined causes. He said the baby had no other injuries typically seen in baby-shaking cases. Diaz was also a model day care provider who never harmed the child, he said.
Hendren was called to testify as part of a hearing held by San Diego Superior Court Judge Robert J. Trentacosta. The jury was in the courtroom.
The hearing involves issues relating to legal discovery, the process in which each side exchanges information about their cases. Plourd filed a motion Monday asking that the case be dismissed because, he said, rules of discovery were violated. He contends that the prosecution hid evidence that by law must be turned over because it could prove his client's innocence.
At issue is evidence from Dr. Alex Levin, who testified for the prosecution last week. Plourd said he never received reports or other information from Levin, a pediatric ophthalmologist, about the case. Plourd said that when he began his questioning of Levin, the doctor produced a thick file of documents and e-mail correspondence between prosecutors, Levin and other doctors about the case. Plourd says the material includes information that could prove his client is not guilty.
Trentacosta is attempting to determine whether there were any violations. He could dismiss the case, eliminate some testimony, find prosecutors in contempt or determine there that was no violation. Plourd wrote a letter to Hendren last March, contending that the prosecutor was not turning over all the information in the case. Hendren testified that he found the letter offensive and that he wrote back asking what it was Plourd was seeking. He said Plourd never replied. Hendren also testified that he had complied with all the discovery rules "to the best of my knowledge."
How I lost two children to the 'lie' of Munchausen's
A mother tells how she was blamed when her son died after being given cisapride
Sunday February 1, 2004
Karen was allowed to hold her new-born daughter for only 20 minutes before she was taken into care. She has no idea where the child is now. Karen, Birmingham Social Services said, had Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, the mental illness that causes parents to harm their children in an attempt to draw attention to themselves. Her child had been placed on the 'at risk' register even before she was born in December 1999. Proof that Karen had MSBP was provided by Professor Sir Roy Meadow, the paediatrician who came up with the theory in 1977 and, until he was recently discredited, was regarded as the world authority on the condition. Meadow had studied Karen's files and, although he had never met her, he warned it was likely she would abuse her baby.
Meadow's evidence was based on what had happened to Karen's son, Michael. The child had been born with breathing difficulties and had been taken to hospital on several occasions following serious attacks. Michael died in Birmingham Children's Hospital in January 1999, two days after being admitted because of shakes and a pale complexion. It transpired he had suffered acute brain damage and it was left to his parents to decide to switch off his life-support system. He was four months old.
The one thing that helped the couple cope with the tragedy was the fact that, soon after Michael's death, Karen became pregnant again. 'We didn't have a clue there was a problem until the letter from social services dropped on the doormat,' Karen, 38, said. 'It said the child was to be placed on the "at risk" register. At first I had no idea what they were going on about.' They appealed against the decision but a High Court ruling in October 2001 cleared the way for the child to be adopted. This was despite the fact a judge had consulted a panel of seven expert witnesses, five of whom said they believed Michael had died of natural causes. The remaining two experts - including Meadow - said the most likely cause of death was smothering. The judge sided with the minority.
And here the story would have ended, leaving Karen branded a child abuser and a woman afraid to have any more children. But, following the discrediting of MSBP, paediatricians and psychologists are now having to reinvestigate child abuse claims and Karen's case is just one of many which have raised concerns. Unknown to his parents, Michael suffered from a serious heart condition. This should have meant that doctors ruled out treating him with a number of drugs, including one called cisapride, once commonly used to treat digestive problems but since taken off the market in the US and the UK after it was linked to a number of deaths.
Michael was prescribed a course of cisapride on two occasions. Following the second course his parents took him off it because he wasn't dealing well with the side-effects. Experts say the drug interferes with the cardiac rhythm and has been known to induce a
near-death experience in children, something that could be confused with an attempt to smother them. The drug's makers, Janssen Pharmaceutica, declined to comment last week. But the company acknowledges that the drug shouldn't be prescribed to certain patients.
A statement made by Janssen four years ago read: 'Because of the risk of serious cardiac arrhythmias and death associated with the use of Propulsid (cisapride) in certain patients, Janssen ... has decided to discontinue marketing Propulsid as of 14 July, 2000 ... Propulsid has been associated with serious cardiac arrhythmias.' Karen is now demanding an inquest to establish whether cisapride was responsible for her son's death. 'My son had a hole in the heart. He should never have been given the drug in the first place,' she said. 'On the day that he went into hospital he hadn't eaten anything as he wasn't feeling well. We only found out later that he had been given a dosage of cisapride in hospital shortly before he had died. Why should he be given a digestive drug when he's not eating?'
It is a question that seems to trouble Janssen, too. The company wrote to the West Midlands Centre for Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting to ask whether any doctors who had been treating the baby had filed an adverse reaction report on the drug. Chances are that Janssen may have to file more adverse reaction inquiries in the months to come. Anti-MSBP campaigners in the UK claim there is a clear correlation between the prescription of the drug and false allegations of child abuse - usually those involving smothering. They claim that more than 150 women whose children were taking cisapride were wrongly diagnosed as having MSBP.
One doctor in Australia, Professor Colin Morley, has gone as far as to estimate that in almost every such case he has been involved in, the child was on cisapride. Following the Government's decision to re-examine hundreds of cases involving MSBP, the prescription of cisapride is to undergo acute legal and scientific scrutiny in the courts. But the danger is that cisapride - like MSBP - becomes a catch-all explanation for child abuse; one that blinds all those involved to the real cause. Child psychologists and scientists point out that other drugs and illnesses cause symptoms that can be mistaken for abuse and there is an urgent need for these to be investigated.
Nevertheless, as one doctor put it: 'We don't know the true picture surrounding allegations of child abuse. But what we do know is that there has been a marked decline in the number of cases involving Munchausen's since cisapride was taken off the market.' Names have been changed for legal reasons
here is an article and, just in case, her lawyer's contact info if someone wants to provide input and info:
Lawyer's contact info:
Christopher John Plourd
Address: 1168 Union St #303, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone Number (619)615-6200
Fax Number (619)615-6204
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Email extension is "flash.net"
Accused woman 'would never hurt child,' lawyer says
SAN DIEGO – A woman accused of causing the shaking death of a 4-month-old Spring Valley boy in her care is a well-loved day care provider
who would never hurt a child, her lawyer said today. Christopher Plourd told a jury that Christina Diaz, 37, was going about her daily routine Dec. 18, 2002, caring for five children, when she noticed Cooper Kuznitz wasn't breathing. "Please hurry," Diaz told a 911 operator. "(My) baby's not breathing right. He's just limp. Please help me."
The infant suffered irreversible brain damage and died Dec. 20.
"Ladies and gentleman, my client did not shake that child," Plourd said in his opening statement. "(She) never hurt any child. Nobody has ever seen her do anything to a child." Plourd disputed prosecutor Garry Haehnle's contention that Diaz was under a lot of stress when the baby died. The baby's parents said their child was fine when they dropped him off at the defendant's home the morning of Dec. 18. Diaz had been watching the infant for about three weeks, Plourd told the jury.
Diaz, who had moved her business from North Park to Kensington, is charged with assault on a child under 8 resulting in death. She faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted. Plourd said Diaz – who has no children of her own – took college classes in child care and has been watching children about 15 years. "She just felt that that was her calling," Plourd told the jury. The attorney said the forensic evidence as to how the baby died will be hotly contested. Prosecutors said the child suffered massive brain trauma consistent with being assaulted. But Plourd said the baby had many medical problems and his death was "unexplainable." One doctor told police he saw massive bleeding on the frontal lobe of the baby's brain, Plourd said. "It turns out to be a mistake," the attorney said. "Basically, the brain was dead. This child was not shaken."
December 11, 2003
Prosecution of mothers for baby deaths ‘will cease’
By Frances Gibb, Legal Editor
THE prosecution of mothers accused of killing their new-born babies is expected to be consigned to legal history in all but the rarest cases after the quashing yesterday of the conviction of Angela Cannings. Hers is one of three high-profile cases that have forced a review of multiple cot death prosecutions by the Attorney-General.
Sally Clark, a solicitor, won her appeal in January to overturn her 1999 conviction for murdering her two baby sons; and Trupti Patel, a pharmacist, was found not guilty in June of murdering her three babies.
The review has turned up 50 cases of murder, manslaughter or infanticide (not just cot deaths) dating back five to seven years and involving the prosecution pathologist Dr Alan Williams. His non-disclosure of evidence
was crucial in the case of Sally Clark and he was heavily criticised by the Court of Appeal.
But the review, by the police and Crown Prosecution Service, may now be extended to include cases involving Professor Sir Roy Meadow, the paediatrician who was a key prosecution witness in all three cases. He has
now retired. One of the cases that might be affected is that of Donna Anthony, 30, who is serving two life sentences after being found guilty in 1998 of murdering her 11-month-old daughter Jordan, and son Michael, four months. No evidence of physical injury to the children was found but Professor Meadow said she had probably smothered the babies.
Her legal representative, George Hawks, said: “I am sure that this will give Donna hope, although she has learnt over five and a half years not to raise her hopes too much.” Her future was in the hands of the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which had the power to refer her case to the Court of Appeal, he said. “Now that
Roy Meadow is no longer being treated like a demi-god, hopefully this will bode well for Donna.”
A spokesman for the CPS said yesterday that no decision had been taken on extending the existing review.
At the trial of Mrs Clark, Professor Meadow told the jury that the chance of two children in such an affluent family dying of cot death was “one in 73 million”. That led the Royal Statistical Society to take the unprecedented step of writing to the Lord Chancellor stating there was “no statistical basis” for the figure. Crown prosecutors have been sent guidance requesting that all current cases involving either expert be identified and the defence be sent a copy of the Sally Clark judgment.
All three cases highlight the problems in investigating cases where babies die suddenly and unexpectedly. The three mothers protested their innocence but an acquittal can be difficult because juries, experts say, have a revulsion to a mother who may have hurt her child. Professor Gary Slapper, director of the law programme at the Open University, has argued that cases of sudden infant death could be looked at by a panel of doctors, as in Sweden, not by the police and prosecuting authorities.
He said yesterday: “It is clear that atrocious injustice has been allowed to fall on mothers who are already in deep agony.”Joyce Epstein, director of the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, called for an overhaul of the way sudden baby deaths are investigated. She said: “Many parents are put through a very tough time because of rash unsupported views, quick judgments and incomplete investigations. Evidence should be tested before it reaches any court.”
DA says baby was violently shaken Father is charged, denies allegations By John Ellement and Farah Stockman, Globe Staff, 12/2/2003
BROCKTON -- Standing with his back to the wall and his head cast down, Shawn E. Hudson yesterday rocked back and forth on his feet in the kind of rhythmic motion parents often use to soothe a crying child. But a prosecutor said the 21-year-old Hudson had offered no comfort to his own incessantly crying child and instead shook the infant so violently that 8-week-old Aidyn suffered brain damage. If doctors manage to save the child's life, the infant may be in a "complete vegetative state," said Frank Middleton, Plymouth County assistant district attorney, in Brockton District Court yesterday.
Middleton said the child's injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome, one symptom of which is hemorrhaging in the eyes. Hudson pleaded not guilty to one count of causing bodily injury to a child. His lawyer, Kathleen M. O'Connell, said Hudson denies harming the infant. "He loves and cares about his son a great deal," she said. Police arrested Hudson Friday night at the New England Medical Center in Boston, where Aidyn has been since Nov. 21. That night, according to Middleton, Hudson became infuriated, shook the crying baby, threw him into his crib, and left the room to don headphones and calm down.
Hudson called 911 at around 1 p.m. The infant was taken to Brockton Hospital, where state social services officials took custody, and later transferred to New England Medical. According to a police report filed in court, Hudson allegedly told police the child's crying was so loud it "could melt steel." He remembered grabbing Aidyn underneath the arms and shaking him "more than once, but no more than five times."
"I know I'm kind of strong," the police report quoted Hudson. "When I get aggravated, I kind of lose it."
Yesterday, Timothy J. Cruz, district attorney for Plymouth County, said he was disturbed that the Department of Social Services learned about the case Nov. 21, but took five days to alert his office. Such delays can "jeopardize an investigation," Cruz said. DSS spokeswoman Denise Monteiro acknowledged that the agency failed to alert prosecutors on Nov. 21 as required. She said DSS workers in Boston and Brockton each thought that the other was handling law enforcement notification and that the oversight wasn't discovered until Nov. 26, when Cruz's office was finally called. Yesterday, DSS commissioner Harry Spence called Cruz and apologized for the agency's error, Monteiro said.
She said DSS sent investigators to the hospital Friday night and gained temporary custody of Aidyn. While the infant's mother is allowed to be with him at the hospital, Monteiro said the agency has not yet decided whether Aidyn will be allowed to return home if he survives. The mother, identified in court records as Kimberlee Conrad-Forsyth, was in court yesterday but declined to speak with reporters. Conrad-Forsyth was at work Nov. 21, Middleton said. But O'Connell noted that Conrad-Forsyth was home for some time that day. O'Connell also said Hudson denies confessing to police that he assaulted Aidyn. "He is looking forward to the opportunity to clear his name," she said. Since Aidyn was hospitalized, doctors also have discovered healing fractures to the child's ribs, collarbone, and upper arm, which indicate he had been abused before Nov. 21, Middleton said.
According to court records, Hudson was arrested in Sept. 22, 2002, when he and his father, Ronald, got into a wrestling match on the front lawn of their house on Hollis Street. Hudson was ordered out of his parents' house by a judge, and the case was continued without a finding until January, court records show. The Hudsons' neighbors spoke warmly of Shawn Hudson and his family, who have lived in the neighborhood for about 18 years. Neighbors say Shawn Hudson is polite, eager to help clear snow-choked driveways, or mow lawns in the summer. They also said his family, particularly his mother, was excited about the birth of Aidyn. His family held a baby shower weeks before Aidyn's birth Oct. 2, neighbors said. "He seemed happy and proud to be a father," said neighbor William J. Grigiss. "He's not the type of person who is going to hurt someone for no reason, especially his own baby, his own kid."
District Court Judge Richard Saviagno ordered Hudson held without bail for violating probation imposed when Hudson admitted stealing $1,000 worth of DVDs and computer game equipment from a store he worked in at the Westgate Mall. He is due back in court Jan. 7.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.
n the rush to protect children, 'experts' use junk science to accuse innocent parents
Evidence is growing of disturbing flaws in the way allegations of child abuse are made and then pursued. James Le Fanu and David Derbyshire investigate
First there was Sally Clark, then Trupti Patel, and now Angela Cannings.
Three women wrongly accused of serial infanticide - one of the most horrendous crimes imaginable.
Each prosecution relied on evidence from Sir Roy Meadow, Britain's leading cot-death expert who decided that, on the balance of probability, these mothers had murdered their children.
Yet, according to a growing body of concerned lawyers, doctors and parents, these are not isolated cases but symptomatic of a legal and medical system so determined to protect children that it fails to protect the innocent.
In this culture junk science can be seen as fact, medical opinion is confused with truth and guilt is determined not by hard evidence, but by a checklist of medical or psychological symptoms.
Three further diagnoses - shaken baby syndrome, Munchausen Syndrome by proxy and recovered memories - account for hundreds of other wrongful convictions of innocent parents over the last two decades.
What they all have in common is that they are based on flawed opinions rather than forensic evidence. Too many doctors still embrace pseudo explanations for things they do not really understand.
There is no obvious medical reason why Sally Clark and Angela Cannings should have lost more than one child: therefore they must have smothered them.
This boy's injuries seemed too serious to have resulted, as the parents insist, from a minor fall: therefore he must have been shaken violently.
There is no clear reason why this teenage girl is suffering from anorexia: she must have been sexually abused by her father.
In the past it has been almost impossible to counter such accusations. Over the last 18 months, however, the scientific basis of each of these diagnoses has been seriously undermined.
The most common false allegation is Shaken Baby Syndrome.
The "characteristic" sign for this is the presence of bleeding at the back of the eyes, known as retinal haemorrhages.
This may sound plausible, but recent studies have shown it is actually very difficult to generate the necessary forces to cause such an injury.
Rather, it is now clear that there are several alternative explanations.
The impact of a baby's head on a hard floor, following a trivial fall, can burst a vessel on the surface of the brain.
A rapid increase of pressure within the skull impairs the return of blood from the eye and can cause a retinal haemorrhage.
It may also occur immediately after birth - caused by pressure on the baby's head in the birth canal - or as a result of meningitis and other devastating illnesses.
Retinal haemorrhages, are, in short, not "characteristic" of SBS.
Next we have Munchausen Syndrome by proxy, a diagnosis first described by Sir Roy Meadow who claimed that some mothers seek the attention of doctors and others by covertly harming their children.
MSBP has now been invoked to explain over 100 unexplained patterns of illness, including epilepsy, abdominal pain, bleeding, diarrhoea, fevers, lethargy and so on.
The third source of false allegation is "recovered memories" of sexual abuse.
Here, the guiding principle is the assumption that there must be a "cause" for an adolescent's psychological disturbance - and if it is not forthcoming, this is because she is repressing her memory of some traumatic event - ie that she has been a victim of sexual abuse. It is easy enough to imagine oneself in any of these situations, when your child tumbles off a bed, bangs his head, has some mystery illness or goes temporarily off the rails.
If you are then swept into a legal nightmare, the only protection against intimidatory tactics, threats, court orders and technical jargon is a good lawyer. Campaigners for parents wrongly accused of abuse say that the system has to change. They believe that a handful of medical experts have had too much influence in the family court system.
2001 Lewiston Sun Journal
Mother accused of killing baby
By Lisa Chmelecki
Sarah Allen held her breath and clicked twice to open the digital photograph. The tears came as soon as she saw his jet-black hair, his dark, squinted eyes, his tiny arms lost in the sleeves of his baby-blue jumper. Allen imagined kissing his pudgy cheeks and rubbing her hand across his soft head. She could smell his clothes, his breath. She closed her eyes and she could feel his day-old skin on her face. It would be nearly a year before the adoption process was complete and Allen and her husband could go to Guatemala to meet their son. Hold him. Kiss him.
For now, they had only the photo that the adoption agency sent the day after the boy was born. Allen studied every detail of the photograph, then she printed five color copies – one for the refrigerator, one for her wallet, another for a frame in the living room and a couple for each set of grandparents. Later that day, the new mother opened her baby book to a page that asks about the first time she saw her baby, the boy she named Nathaniel.
“I cried and I cried. All I could do was think how I wanted to take care of you,” she wrote. “You were much smaller than I thought! But very handsome and gorgeous! The sweetest baby in the world!!” The baby book – a special kind for parents who adopt – now sits in a cardboard storage box on top of Spanish coloring books, a flag that Allen and her husband bought in Guatemala and hung on their banister and piles of adoption papers. Most of the pages in the hardcover book are blank. The growth chart ends at 20 months and 26.8 pounds, and a diagram tracking the loss of Nathaniel’s baby teeth has only eight entries.
These days, Allen, 29, only goes into the storage box to get something for her lawyer. A copy of Nathaniel’s birth certificate. A court document from the adoption proceedings. Photographs of the night she held Nathaniel for the first time in a hotel lobby in Guatemala City. Anything to help boost her lawyer’s argument that she didn’t shake her son with so much force that it rattled his brain and killed him. Allen’s husband, Jeremy, was standing by the window when he noticed a police van pull up in front of their home in Lisbon Falls. It was Feb. 26, nearly two weeks after Sarah Allen called 911 to report that Nathaniel had fallen and was gasping for air.
Police kept Allen in the living room while paramedics treated the 22-month-old on the kitchen table. When it came time to go to the hospital, Allen asked if she could ride in the back of the ambulance with her son. She was told to sit in the front. “Something didn’t feel right from the very beginning. Nobody was telling me anything. I didn’t understand,” Allen recalled, sitting in her lawyer’s office last week, days before her first court appearance.
At the hospital, Allen was ushered to a private waiting room while doctors hooked Nathaniel to a life-support system. Her husband, a Navy journalist based at the Brunswick Naval Air Station, met her there after rushing back from a business trip in New Hampshire. A Maine State Police detective, a Department of Human Services social worker and the state’s child-abuse expert showed up within an hour. At that point, Allen says, she had no idea that her son was so close to death or that she was suspected of causing the injuries that left him brain-dead.
While doctors tested Nathaniel for signs of hope, Allen went back to her house with the detective to replay the day’s events. Many bruises The towel that Allen used to dry Nathaniel after he got out of the tub was still wet when she and the detective got to the house. A brand-new windbreaker was hanging in Nathaniel’s closet, the tags still attached. Allen bought it in the fall and hoped it would fit perfectly by spring. A red wagon was parked in the garage next to Jeremy Allen’s 10-speed bike with the attached baby seat. At 27 pounds, Nathaniel was still too small to ride with his dad. Weeks later, Allen and her husband found a Matchbox car and a Mickey Mouse book collecting dust under the refrigerator, where Nathaniel had shoved them when his mom wasn’t looking. By then, Nathaniel was dead, Allen was charged with manslaughter and her husband was facing an assault charge for allegedly spanking the boy on the thigh and buttocks on the day before he was rushed to the hospital. According to court documents, Allen told the detective while walking him through the house that she had watched Jeremy hit the boy with a spatula two or three times. She also told him that Nathaniel had been unstable, falling frequently and bruising his face.
The boy had fallen in the bathtub twice that night, she said. Then he fell several more times before collapsing in his bedroom for the last time. A medical examiner noted bruises on Nathaniel’s eyelids, cheek, upper thigh and buttock and left wrist, Maine State Police Detective Herb Leighton wrote in a statement about the case.
Allen and her husband decided to take Nathaniel off life-support on Feb. 15 after doctors confirmed that his brain would never work again. Police contacted them several times over the next two weeks. Detective Leighton called their cellular phone while they were making arrangements at the funeral parlor. He told them he had new medical findings that he wanted to discuss with them. The couple didn’t answer any of his questions and immediately contacted Auburn defense lawyer Verne Paradie. When Jeremy Allen shouted from the living room as the detectives got out of the van and walked toward the house, Sarah Allen knew they had come to arrest her.
She was charged with manslaughter, a crime punishable by up to 40 years in prison, and was taken to Androscoggin County Jail where she waited in a cell for her family and friends to come up with $25,000 bail.
Jeremy Allen was charged with assault a few weeks later after state prosecutors presented the case to a grand jury.
The oldest daughter of a computer scientist and a stay-at-home mom, Allen graduated from Maryland Bible College. She considered becoming a missionary, but she ended up working as a substitute teacher, an editor for a computer trade magazine, then a part-time hairdresser. She knew she wanted to adopt when she was an 11-year-old volunteer for a busing program that picked up poor children at their housing projects in southern New Hampshire and took them to church. Allen claims that she never hurt her son and she certainly didn’t kill him.
“I loved him so much. He meant everything to me,” she said, her eyes glassy, her voice quiet, but her tears contained. “I never abused him.” Police say they have evidence to prove otherwise. They say Allen shook Nathaniel so hard that it jolted his brain. According to court papers, an autopsy performed on the boy revealed three telling signs: bleeding around the retina, bleeding around the brain and swelling of the brain.
“We are convinced that this is a case of shaken-baby syndrome,” said Maine State Police spokesman Stephen McCausland. “This baby was violently shaken.” In a statement about the case, the lead detective pointed out that two doctors agreed that Allen’s explanation that the boy fell and struck his head several times while sitting and standing could not have caused his head injuries. “Children do not die from falling down. If that was the case, none of us would have made it past the age of 2,” said Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese, the state prosecutor on the case. Paradie, however, said he doesn’t plan to argue that the baby died as a result of the fall. Allen told police about the falls because she wanted them to know everything in order to determine what was wrong with her son, he said. The Auburn lawyer is waiting for the results of a second autopsy in which samples of fluid from the boy’s brain were taken to be tested for infections and other brain disorders.
Paradie believes Nathaniel suffered from a pre-existing neurological problem – a condition that may have caused him to still wobble when he walked. It may also explain why he could only make sounds such as “dah dah” and “wello wello,” and why he fell so much in the days leading to his death. “His developmental delays indicate that he had something going on neurologically,” Paradie said. “They arrested her, they charged her and they hadn’t even conducted the second autopsy yet.” Marchese said she has not seen any information to indicate that Nathaniel suffered from a pre-existing condition. “Nathaniel died from a very violent incident,” she said.
Nathaniel spent the first year of his life with a foster family in Guatemala, while lawyers led the Allens through the lengthy legal process of making the adoption official. During the year, the Allens moved back to Maine from Italy, where Jeremy Allen was stationed for a couple of years. They bought a house in Lisbon Falls. In the spare room they put a crib that they had bought two years ago for a Mexican baby whose mother disappeared before giving birth. But they didn’t decorate the room.
Allen was afraid something would fall through, as it did with the first baby. The Allens learned about the girl in June 2000, shortly after starting their search. They bought her a brand-new crib, and Allen’s friends gave her a potty, a pair of tiny sneakers and other gifts at a surprise baby shower. A month after the party, weeks before the baby was due, the birth mother was gone. Promises of other Mexican babies came and went before the Allens learned that Mexico was closing its borders to international adoptions. They turned their search to Guatemala.
A month later, their lawyer called about a baby girl who was due in two weeks. The Allens decided to name her Bethany. They went shopping for summer dresses. Then they learned that the lawyer had made a mistake. Another couple had been promised the same baby. “It was like getting kicked in the stomach,” Allen said. “I cried. I cried a lot.” ‘It’s Mommy’
The adoption agency continued to tell them about other possibilities, but the birth mothers kept disappearing into the hills or changing their minds. Eventually, Allen got a puppy, a miniature pinscher named Leila who woke up every three hours to be walked and fed. In February 2001, the Allens had a choice: hire another lawyer who was trying to find parents for a 6-month-old abandoned boy or stick with their lawyer who was in contact with a young woman who was seven months pregnant. They chose the birth mother. The e-mail with Nathaniel’s photograph came two months later. “Congratulations,” it said. “Your son was born at 9 p.m. last night.” Allen was sitting on the floor in her bedroom when she heard Nathaniel for the first time. He was already 9 months old and his foster mother held the phone to his ear.
“Hi,” Allen said. “It’s Mommy.”
Nathaniel laughed out loud. And Allen started to cry. No sister. When their lawyer’s assistant walked into the hotel lobby two months later with Nathaniel in her arms, Allen could do nothing but stare at the boy and grin. “We thought we’d break down and cry but we had cried for months,” she said. “All we could do was smile.” At that point, Nathaniel belonged to the Allens. Unlike domestic adoptions conducted through the state Department of Human Services, there would be no probation period, no monthly check-ins after the couple got the baby home.
All of the work – the intensive home visits, the background checks, the 50-page reports – were done. >From the time Allen and her husband began researching adoption agencies to the night when Allen dressed N athaniel in his Winnie the Pooh pajamas for the first time, the couple spent $24,000. When she lay down next to her newborn son in the hotel room that first night, watching his eyes wander the room and humming him to sleep, none of the frustrations of the past two years mattered. He was as soft and sweet-smelling as she had imagined.
Allen knew she would eventually do it all over again.
Weeks before their son died, she and her husband began to contact private adoption agencies. They were ready for another baby, a sister for Nathaniel. As Allen and her husband stood before a judge Friday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to the charges against them, they knew that no matter what happened in court, they would never use the crib, the potty, the blue windbreaker.
They would never finish a baby book.
"Shaken Baby?" Maybe Not: Adult vaccine guinea pigs talk and walk at personal sacrifice
Roanoke, VA 24014 June 10, 2003
Adults avoiding side effects of vaccines and experimental drugs get press coverage and sympathy denied helpless day-old infants. Some newborns lose parents when adverse reactions appear and Mommy is labeled with "Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy" (MSP) and Daddy or live-in or baby-sitter is accused of "Shaken Baby Syndrome" (SBS).
Scientific explanations are too rarely sought. Emotional suspicion repeated by media helps convict and imprison innocents while their children are reallocated to others. (See: http://www.expertclick.com/NewsReleaseWire/default.cfm?Action=ReleaseDetail&ID4215)
Often unsuspecting adopting strangers receive financial incentives as do public child-placing agencies arranging permanent transfer away from all family members, siblings and grandparents included. Effects of mandated immunizations (sometimes 4-9 in one shot to an undeveloped immune system) are ignored as a possible cause of alleged "abuse."
Most in media and the public concentrate on results of reactions to shots, drugs, DNA errors and combination factors without closely checking available science for causes of those same results. Suspicion and prosecution speculation make more interesting press.
By avoiding genetic research findings and revelations of medical geneticists concerning confusing signs and symptoms in genuinely ill children (Example: http://www.newscientist.com/news/print.jsp?id=ns99993794) as well as in post-mortem autopsies, some "practicing" doctors and adjunct health personnel initiate "parent-ectomies" to borrow an apt expression.
But, don't take our word for what can happen to children at the end of a needle. Read WorldNetDaily's Tuesday (June 9) feature "Vaccines fueling autism epidemic?," a report on "U.S. Infants exposed to mercury beyond EPA, FDA limits" at: http://wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=32988
Healthy adults today risk separation from military service and censure in health-related work as nurses, emergency technicians, and related occupations and volunteer positions for questioning herd inoculations for themselves. They have seen and learned of consequences of too readily accepting even single vaccines ordered to continue in their work.
A story about fatal effects of combination shots in United Kingdom's Sunday Mirror too vividly and dramatically illustrates what should, but may not yet be, the truly worst case scenario. Read: http://www.sundaymirror.co.uk/news/page.cfm?objectid=13044404&method=full&siteid=106694&headline=THE%20SUICIDE%20SQUADDIES
Groggy mothers immediately after delivery are no more a match for a poised "protective" needle strike on and for their just-born infant/s than are the totally helpless babies themselves. So, who removes a veil of deliberate ignorance from child protective services intake and investigation efforts when chemicals react from within and are the proximate and underlying causes of MSP and SBS mistaken, mischievous, or malicious child abuse reports?
Science Totally Lacking
Who orders "the court" to demand that accepted scientific methodology supports Roy Meadow's emotive motivation theory he coined "Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy"? When and by whom was his alleged research replicated and peer reviewed?
(Hint: His freelance research never will be repeated because saltloading a sick infant repeatedly admitted with high chloride would trigger prosecution of any other person, not knighthood as Roy Meadow received. Read carefully: http://web.tiscali.it/humanrights/articles/meadow77.html
Which court will be the first to declare that Laws of Nature (physics, to be precise) do not support the "Shaken Baby" theory as described, accepted, and prosecuted?
(Hint: NCADRC's 11th International Conference featured four presenters from varied disciplines. Using different approaches they passed public and peer review in proving SBS cannot be what many choose to believe it is.)
If SBS is not what people think it is, if laws of nature show its signs cannot occur from outside force, what creates retinal hemorrhages? Could something assault a baby's brain--as chemical changes clearly occur in brains of previously immune-strong adults--from the inside? Perhaps something injected into the bloodstream?
If not SBS, What?
Scientists throughout the world, when not funded by drug manufacturing firms or if proving the lack of science behind popular much prosecuted theories, find their research manuscripts unwelcome in major journals funded by vaccine producers. Thus, a statement that "There is no science supporting..." may be a true statement only because peer review and publication are prevented.
If their work connects vaccines and adjuvants (materials vaccines are delivered in) as igniting causation factors that result in serious health problems or deaths, they may find themselves personally and professionally as welcome as fire ants at a preschool picnic in formerly collegial venues.
Still, in the absence of solid science--apparently known to be wholly lacking with regard to vaccine safety for all--the "dust bin" or "wastebasket" faux diagnoses are no more than prejudicial labels: "Munch" moms and alleged SBS baby-sitters and "violent" male caretakers. Labels shared by prosecutors with media usually create sufficient emotion to convict all but the many self-servingly sitting on the whole truth of vaccine and adjuvant involvement.
Vaccines, the materials they are delivered in, the immediate and genetic health of newborns and infants (as well as reluctant or naive healthy adults), accumulation of materials known dangerous to humans (such as mercury), and factors including environmental, may be root causes of California's stunning autism rate rise currently in the news.
Cheap shot labeling of mothers, fathers, and caretakers deflects attention from "practicing" professionals who gave or ordered the shots, pills, or failed to preview genetic factors that could explain infant deaths or new disabilities in children of nonrandom parents or in a previously vibrant military serviceperson or in a now crippled but "emergency-prepared" cooperative nurse.
When media demands and understands connections between a sick or dead baby (or adult, likely including NBC's admired David Bloom) and immunization and medication histories, and when legislators require all autopsies of uncertain child deaths to include medical genetics and drug screens, remaining mysteries of SIDS may be solved.
It is past time for cruel labeling of innocent and grieving MSP moms and SBS caretakers, as well as belittling of cautious military and health care personnel, who shun risky shots, to cease. When the connections are made and the light dawns, taxpayers and all who care about children and health worldwide as well as whole truth and
family justice will insist on enacting "Shawna's Bill." (See:
In the meantime, confused professionals and media determined to learn where science really trumps suspicion may contact researchers with information on the origins of MSP and revelations on SBS signs through NCADRC.
Kimberly Hart (email@example.com)
National Child Abuse Defense & Resource Center
P.O. Box 638
Holland, OH 43528
Phone : 419-865-0513
Fax : 419-865-0526
Decision overturned in shaken baby case
by Manju Subramanya
Nov. 20, 2002
Montgomery County prosecutors used a doll in a 1999 criminal trial to demonstrate their contention that Kurt Nichols Andrews shook his 6-month-old daughter to death in a Rockville parking garage.
But the doll was physically different from baby Kristin, who weighed three times more and had a head disproportionately larger than her body because she had been born three months premature.
On Nov. 14, the state's highest court ruled that use of the doll was "an unfair comparison" and did not accurately reflect the amount of adult force needed to establish shaken child syndrome.
Ruling that the Circuit Court erred in allowing the demonstration, the Court of Appeals overturned 33-year-old Andrews' 1999 conviction and five-year prison term for reckless endangerment in connection with his daughter's death.
"Several circuits have recognized that demonstrative exhibits tend to leave a particularly potent image to the jurors," Chief Judge Robert M. Bell wrote in his 31-page opinion, on behalf of the seven-member bench.
"That the jurors may have relied upon this demonstration in their deliberation may have prejudiced the petitioner.
"Prosecutors have the burden of establishing "substantial similarity" between the in-court demonstration and the event it purports to depict, before the demonstration is allowed, Bell wrote.
The ruling sets out standards a judge would have to look at before permitting similar demonstrations, said lawyers associated with the case.
Donald P. Salzman, a former public defender in Montgomery County who served as Andrews' defense lawyer and is now in private practice in Washington, D.C., said he was pleased with the ruling.
"I always believed and continue to believe that Andrews is innocent," Salzman said. "He did not hurt his daughter."
During the two-week trial in April 1999, prosecutors argued that Andrews, stuck in a parking garage with his infant daughter while waiting for his fiancée to return from a training seminar, shook her so hard that she suffered a brain hemorrhage and died. Defense lawyers contended that the baby died after choking on her vomit. They alleged that the state Medical Examiner's Office erred in classifying the death as shaken baby syndrome, without waiting for medical records that showed Kristin was a fragile, premature child with severe respiratory problems.
"There was strong evidence that the baby choked and stopped breathing. She was a very fragile child, three months premature. It is a miracle she lived," Salzman said. "I very much believe that the Medical Examiner's Office made very serious mistakes." A Circuit Court jury acquitted Andrews on April 13, 1999, of the more serious charges of second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and child abuse. But they found him guilty of reckless endangerment -- a charge that got him the five-year jail sentence. "It was a real tragedy that he was convicted," Salzman said. "What a horrible thing for a parent to have to go through." During the trial, defense lawyers repeatedly objected to the doll demonstration, prompting Judge Martha Kavanaugh to inform the jury that the demonstration was not an "accurate re-enactment," but only an opinion.
"We are not persuaded that the cautionary instruction cured any possible prejudice suffered by the petitioner," Bell wrote. Montgomery County Deputy State's Attorney Katherine Winfree said she was disappointed with the ruling.
"Obviously, it was a very difficult case, with a lot of conflicting expert testimony," Winfree said. "There's no way you can re-enact a crime every single way," she said. "We used the doll to illustrate the case to the jury, make it come to life for them.
"You cannot shake a real baby."
Prosecutors took a different tack in the January 2000 trial of Sandra Villacis, using slides to show that the Rockville woman shook to death a toddler in her care, she said. Villacis was sentenced two months later to 10 years in prison. Geraldine Sweeney, deputy chief of the appellate division of the Maryland Public Defenders Office in Baltimore, who argued the appellate case on behalf of Andrews, said, "We are very pleased. Our client is very pleased." Sweeney said she had taken the doll used in the trial to Annapolis so the Court of Appeals judges could see the demonstration for themselves."
This was a CPR doll -- the kind in pretty standard use for infant CPR training. It was made for a different purpose, not to demonstrate shaken baby syndrome," Sweeney said. In reversing Andrews' conviction, the court also remanded the case back to Montgomery County Circuit Court for a new trial. Winfree said her office has not decided whether to try Andrews again.A trial may be somewhat moot: Andrews was released in April 2000 after a three-judge panel agreed to reduce his sentence to 284 days in jail -- essentially the nine months in jail he had already served.
"Theoretically they could try the case, but it seems senseless to retry the case," Sweeney said. "He couldn't get a greater sentence and he has already served his time." If tried again and convicted, Andrews also faces a second danger -- although legally in the country, he is not an U.S. citizen. The Baltimore resident could be deported back to Trinidad, his native country.
I agree that SBS does not exist, shaking alone does not cause injury to the infant's brain. I do believe that SHAKEN INFANT IMPACT (against a hard surface) SYNDROME does occur. After my son, Kieran was admitted to the ICU with a life-threatening bleed, I called neurosurgeons all over the country to see if this particular hospital was capable of handling this type of interventricular hemorrhage. Anyway, I was told that there has to be a fracture in the skull to be a true case of child abuse and even that is a hard call because accidents can happen. I know of a family who adopted a child, the baby had a seizure in the adoptive mother's arms and she dropped him, the neurosurgeon said that Cat scans showed what looked to be a shaken baby with impact because of the fracture in the skull. He testified at the trial that this was simply an accident and they were found not guilty. Another family accused at the same hospital as us also were found not guilty of causing their baby's injury after a can fell out of the kitchen cabinet and hit him on the head causing a fracture in the skull. If these so called experts believe that shaking alone causes injury, they should observe what goes on at a physical therapy session with an infant that suffered a massive bleed in the brain, a shunt, seizure disorder, visual impairment, and global delays. They would put Kieran on a huge ball and bounce him up and down as well as putting him on a mini trampoline and do the same thing. This was to gain more muscle tone and head control. This was a rehab hospital for children that had suffered a traumatic brain injury. One of the neurosurgeons involved in our case said at first I thought these doctors were on an ego trip, now I think that they are just plain stupid! My son's neurologist, after reading the first cat scan said this shows a shear lack of experience and doctors with a lack of experience should not be making allegations of SBS! Belinda
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
Dad on trial for murder Infant's last days described
BYLINE: JENNIFER BRETT, Staff
Early on the afternoon of April 29, 2002, Marsha Collins drove to the Norcross health department to apply for food stamps. She needed help to buy milk for her baby, Chandler. A caseworker told Collins she needed to see the
2-month-old to authorize the aid. Collins phoned home and asked Chandler's father, Danyel Smith, to bring the child. When they arrived, Chandler wasn't breathing. He wasn't responsive. Chandler was rushed to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite, but he never woke up and he never breathed again on his own.
A week later he was taken off life support and pronounced dead. Now Smith, 28, is on trial, charged with felony murder, cruelty to children and aggravated battery. Smith's attorney, Ed Wilson, told jurors that Smith
is "a good dad" and did not harm his son. The trial opened Tuesday with testimony describing how Chandler began what was essentially the last day of his life smiling, chewing on his hand and posing for pictures.
Just a few hours later, doctors would be standing over his little body. CT scans and a physical exam would lead them to suspect the child had been violently shaken.
Chandler, who had been born a little early, weighed less than 5 pounds at birth. He had to stay in the hospital for a week after being delivered by Caesarean section. But, to his pediatrician's delight, his condition soon
improved. "I was so pleased that I asked for a picture," Dr. Anne Frankel told jurors. Chandler's parents brought him for a regular checkup the morning of April 29, 2002. Frankel examined him thoroughly, and a nurse administered some inoculations. Chandler had a touch of a stuffy nose, and Frankel suggested saline drops for the stuffiness and recommended Tylenol --- infants sometimes develop a low-grade fever after vaccinations.
Before the visit ended, Frankel posed for a picture with her tiny patient. Jurors saw the photo of doctor and baby, snapped with a disposable camera by Collins.
"It was a happy visit," assistant district attorney Jim Miskell said during his opening statement. After leaving the doctor's office, Smith and Collins made a few stops before arriving home. Collins had a 1:45 p.m. appointment at the health department and left the baby in Smith's care, Miskell said. Collins called Smith from the health department. At first he resisted bringing the baby. About 2:20 p.m., on the way to the department, Smith called Collins, Miskell said. He had chilling words for the mother of his child: "There's something wrong with the baby. He stopped breathing." Dr. William Boydston, a pediatric neurosurgeon who examined Chandler at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite, told jurors the child was comatose upon arrival. Chandler had no gag reflex, no blinking reflex. His pupils were dilated. He had a bruise on his belly, and his head was swollen. CT scans showed what was happening inside Chandler's head. His skull had split apart from the pressure of his swelling brain. CT scans on subsequent days showed steady deterioration, and Chandler was taken off life support at his mother's request. Doctors consulted about the decision concurred. Chandler had been breathing with the help of machines, but in essence, he was already dead. Smith's attorney, Ed Wilson, raised questions about an earlier seizure Chandler suffered on March 10, 2002, and whether inoculations could cause reactions in some children. The witnesses so far --- Frankel and Boydston --- said they didn't know anything about an earlier seizure. Boydston said a seizure would not have caused the injuries Chandler had. Frankel said reactions to shots are rare, and usually include a mild fever. Of course, many children cry after being given shots, she said. Chandler did, but only for a little while, she said. Then he was smiling again.
ILLUSTRATIONS/PHOTOS: Defendant Danyel Smith is charged with felony murder,
cruelty to children and aggravated battery. / T. LEVETTE BAGWELL / Staff
Child-Murder Charge Dismissed
Judge rules insufficient evidence after 5-day hearing
[By Christine Mahr for The Desert Sun, Palm Springs, California.]
Larson Justice Center -- A judge on Monday dismissed murder and other charges against a La Quinta couple accused of killing the man's 2- year-old [autistic] son in January. Judge Thomas N. Douglass Jr. ruled after a five-day preliminary hearing that there was insufficient evidence for Derrick Brown, 33, and Patricia Brown, 37, the child's stepmother, to stand trial for murder, assault on a child resulting in death and willful harm to a child. The couple's relatives and friends who nearly filled the courtroom collectively sighed in relief when Douglass ruled, but they remained composed until they went outside where they cheered, hugged and cried. "I feel really good," said Fred Cooper of Indio, Patricia Brown's father. "The judge was very fair." "At times we question our justice system, but this gives us renewed faith and hope and lets us know the system works," said Herlis Denton, pastor of Mount Zion Church of God in Christ located in Indio, which the Browns attend.
Deputy Public Defender Dean Benjamini's eyes misted as family members hugged and thanked him and attorney Mark Sullivan. Benjamini represented Derrick Brown, and Sullivan is Patricia Brown's attorney. "Justice was accomplished today," Sullivan said. "(Judge Douglass) made a very difficult decision but it clearly was the right decision." Benjamini credited Dr. Ronald Gabriel -- a Los Angeles pediatrician and neurologist who testified for the defense much of the day Monday - - with providing expert testimony that was a factor in Douglass' decision. "(Gabriel) truly was phenomenal in his assessment of this case," Benjamini said.
Gabriel disputed the testimony of the prosecution's key witness -- Dr.Steven Trenkle, a San Bernardino County Coroner's pathologist who did an autopsy after the toddler's death in January. The San Bernardino County Coroner's office did the autopsy because the child was pronounced dead at Loma Linda University Medical Center. Trenkle testified the boy died of abusive trauma to the head consistent with being shaken. Reacting to Douglass' decision, Senior Deputy District Attorney John Davis said, "(Douglass) believed the defense expert and not ours." Davis said that because the two doctors' testimonies amounted to "a battle of the experts," the case should have been decided by a jury. In giving his opinion, Douglass said that although he believes Trenkle is a competent and qualified doctor, Gabriel's testimony in this case far outweighed Trenkle's.
"I find (Gabriel) to be more credible on specific, important issues," Douglass said. Gabriel testified that in his opinion the toddler died of a seizure that caused him to stop breathing and prevented fresh oxygen from getting to his brain, resulting in brain death. The child suffered from impaired brain function that prevented his brain from growing normally, retardation, autism and a seizure disorder, Gabriel said. Prosecutors could refile charges or appeal Douglass' ruling but Davis could not be reached later for comment on whether that will happen.
Jury acquits Francis of child abuse Saturday, August 26, 2000 By TIM GURRISTER Standard-Examiner staff OGDEN --
A jury needed only an hour to acquit Jenny Francis on a charge of child abuse in an alleged Shaken Baby Syndrome case. "You've seen the evidence and you know Jenny Francis did not shake that baby, she did not hurt that baby," defense attorney Edwin Wall said Friday afternoon as he began his closing argument to the jury, a statement that proved prophetic. Francis had been charged with third-degree felony child abuse, not a second-degree felony as has been previously reported. The charges stemmed from an Oct. 12 incident after Madisen Porter, then 5 months old, showed injuries prosecution doctors labeled SBS while Francis was baby-sitting the child. The jury apparently found the defense theory of the injuries more plausible, that a pre-existing and unknown subdural hematoma (a blood clot between the brain and the skull) began to bleed again spontaneously in the child. Porter family members and friends watched glumly as Francis family members and friends jubilantly exited the Ogden 2nd District Courthouse Friday evening after the verdict. The two families still live across the street from each other in Morgan. The trial was moved to Ogden to ensure an impartial jury since so many people in rural Morgan County, population 7,000-plus, were aware of the emotional case. The jury's short deliberation after three days of tediously detailed medical testimony from both sides seemed to indicate jurors seized on the less complicated aspects of the case in making their decision. Defense attorney Wall hit hard and often on the simple fact that Madisen Porter had no markings on her body such as bruising, scratches or grip marks that would coincide with the rough handling the prosecution was alleging.
"The prosecution tells you the force it took to cause the injuries is equal to a fall from a two-story building," Wall told jurors. "But there are no marks. "This is a common sense thing, it's not magic. The doctors and EMTs found no bruises, no grip marks, nothing, when they often expect to find broken ribs in these cases. That just doesn't make sense." The child has potentially untreatable developmental and eyesight problems because of her injuries, which include retinal hemorrhages and temporary swelling of the brain and paralysis. During the trial, the jury heard more about the defense theory of a "rebleed" causing the damage to the child than they did on the mechanics of Shaken Baby Syndrome. Wall, with an eminent neurologist, Dr. Ayub Chon Ommaya, a defense witness in the nationally-televised Louise Woodward "au pair" trial and who commands an $850 an hour expert witness fee, put on a clinic complete with a brain model and whiteboard diagram-drawing. Prosecutors belittled some of Ommaya's testimony, noting the rebleed theory is not widely accepted by his contemporaries and that he is not a pediatrician. "You heard him say his diagnosis is based on the fact Madisen was being irritable, fussy and had changes in eating and sleeping patterns that morning," Morgan County Attorney Kelly Wright told the jury. "How many infants are irritable, fussy and have changes in eating and sleeping patterns? "If those are the symptoms where you have to operate on a child for a subdural hematoma, our hospitals would be filled wall to wall with children." "This is a man who hasn't treated a child in years," Assistant Attorney General Craig Barlow, who teamed with Wright on the case, said of Ommaya.
The Herald-Mail ONLINE
Father gets 5 to 10 years in assault of infant son
by DON AINES
CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A former corrections officer convicted of assaulting his infant son was sentenced Wednesday by Franklin County Judge Richard J. Walsh to five to 10 years in state prison, but will remain out on bond pending the outcome of an appeal by a noted Pennsylvania attorney. William Costopoulos of Lemoyne, Pa., will handle the appeal of Peter
B. Stotelmyer, said Chris Sheffield, who represented Stotelmyer in his December jury trial. He was convicted of aggravated assault, which carries a mandatory minimum of five years in prison if the victim is under the age of 13.
Costopoulos was the attorney for Charlie Robertson, the former mayor of York, Pa., who was acquitted in 2002 of criminal conspiracy in the death of a black woman killed during a 1969 race riot in York. Robertson, who was a police officer at the time of the killing, was accused of handing out ammunition to white rioters and encouraging them to shoot blacks.
Costopoulos also successfully represented Jay Smith, one of the defendants in the so-called "Main Line Murders," a 1979 case in whicha woman was killed and her two children were never seen again. "He will be appealing the judge's ruling on evidentiary issues" from the trial, Sheffield said. That could include Walsh's decision not to allow testimony by a defense expert witness, Sheffield said. Stotelmyer, 32, formerly of 280 Mount Union Road, Fayetteville, Pa., was charged with aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child in the Nov. 12, 2002, assault on his son, Calvin, then 5 months old. A former corrections officer at the Maryland Correctional Training Center in Hagerstown, Stotelmyer was acquitted on the endangering charge.
According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by Pennsylvania State Police, the child was crying and refusing to eat and Stotelmyer "began to shake Calvin violently up and down off his knee." Stotelmyer told police the child went limp and he performed CPR to revive him, the affidavit stated.
The child was taken to Chambersburg Hospital and then Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center, but was released within a few days, according to trial testimony. Prosecution witness Dr. Mark Dias testified at the trial that the child showed evidence of shaken baby syndrome, including bleeding on his brain and retinal hemorrhages. "My husband and the father of my son violently shook my son and could have killed him and I can't forgive him for that," Anni Stotelmyer said at the sentencing, according to a court transcript.
"I ... don't know what it feels like to look into the eyes of my angered father as he shakes me until I can't breathe any more," she told Walsh. "I won't rest. I won't stop until there's justice for Calvin because that's who this is about," she said. Sheffield said the county's probation department recommended a five- to 20-year sentence for his client. Sheffield, who said Peter Stotelmyer has no previous criminal record, argued for a shorter maximum end on the sentence. Sheffield said Costopoulos could appeal the case in county court or go directly to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. The appeals process could take several months, he said.
Under the Today logo, go to video 3.
It is the story about the family that caught the nanny shaking their baby on video. Now, here is what I am thinking, after viewing the video and remembering what all I was told when we were being falsely accused of SBS, it didn’t take a whole lot of shaking to do a whole lot of damage. So, I’m thinking this PROVES to me that SBS is NOT what it is defined as. My thinking is IF SBS were as it is defined, then this child should be in a hosp. Possibly in a coma, and having retinal hemorrhages. Yet, from what I understand, the baby checked out fine. Does this make sense? Of course the media is not going to mention this, we have to think for ourselves. But to me this DISproves SBS.
Anyone else thinking along these lines??
Mom to Dathon, 10, Vaccine Injured:Aspergers, CP, Epilepsy
and Aubrey,6, No vaccines,
The Mason Family-http://home.bellsouth.net/p/PWP-Dinamason
Cost of co-pay for vaccinations: $10.00
Cost of trip to McDonalds after vaxing: $10.00
Cost of hospitalization after reacting to vax: $300,000.00*
Cost of avoiding vaxes and knowing your child never reacts: PRICELESS
* Actual bill
HOLLYWOOD | VIOLENCE ON TAPE
Mom: Nanny a `monster'
A nanny is behind bars, charged with four counts of felony child abuse after after a videotape showed her shaking the infant and slamming her to the kitchen floor.
BY WANDA J. DeMARZO
firstname.lastname@example.orgPosted on Sat, Oct. 11, 2003
HIDDEN CAMERA: Police say this videotape shows nanny Claudia Muro violently shaking 5-month-old Laura Schwartz in the kitchen of her parents' home. WFOR CBS-4
Hollywood police charged a nanny with abusing an infant in her care after viewing a ''nanny cam'' that showed the child being shaken violently and slammed on the kitchen floor.
Claudia Muro, 29, was captured on video lifting the 5-month-old daughter of Brett and Jennifer Schwartz over her head and shaking the child five or six times, causing the little girl's head to whip back and forth.
Another clip from a video shows Muro raising the infant over her head and slamming the infant to the floor three or four times.
''It's very disturbing -- as a law enforcement officer and especially as a parent -- to watch,'' said Hollywood Police Capt. Tony Rode.
The Schwartzes say there is more evidence of Muro abusing their daughter that pales in comparison to the clips released by Hollywood police on Friday.
''I hope this woman never touches another child, is never allowed to work with children again,'' Jennifer Schwartz said in a phone interview Friday.
Schwartz, a social worker, said she and her husband, Brett, an attorney and former Miami-Dade prosecutor, said they thought they did everything they could to ensure their child would be safe.
The first-time parents retained Muro through an agency in Sunny Isles, All In One Services, police said. A woman at the agency, who said her name was Gabby, said the company was not aware of Muro's arrest. The woman said the company does background checks on everyone they hire. The couple did two criminal background checks, interviewed references and hired a private investigator. They went through nine applicants before settling on Muro.
''If you speak to any of our friends who knew her, they'd tell you that she was gentle and soft-spoken,'' Jennifer Schwartz said. ``No one would have thought she was capable of anything like this.'' About a month ago, the Schwartzes noticed their daughter crying and squirming when she was handed over to Muro. They became curious, they said, and installed the video camera.
On Wednesday, they saw what looked like a bite mark on their daughter's cheek. They took her to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood for treatment, then went home to scrutinize the videotapes. They were stunned by what they saw.''I trusted her and I was wrong,'' said Jennifer Schwartz. ``I handed my daughter to her, and when I left she became a monster.'' The Schwartzes contacted Hollywood police, and Muro was arrested Thursday while walking to work. She was charged with four counts of felony child abuse. ''It doesn't seem like it's enough,'' Brett Schwartz said. 'I don't know what more parents can do to make sure their children are safe. But thank God she's alive. The `nanny cam' saved her life.'' There is one case pending at the State Attorney's Office involving a baby sitter caught on tape hitting a 6-month-old infant.''The only possible prosecution problem with the so-called nanny cam is the problem of sound,'' State Attorney spokesman Ron Ishoy said in an e-mail. ``It is illegal to record audio of a person if that person would expect that he or she is in private. But there are no prohibitions against videotaping without sound.'' Brett Schwartz said he learned a valuable lesson he wants to share with parents: ''A stranger with a glowing recommendations is still a stranger. No one really knows who they are,'' he said. ``As a prosecutor in Miami-Dade County, I saw many child abuse cases, but you never believe it could happen to your child.''Muro, g rents an apartment in the 1700 block of Roosevelt Street was always personable, a neighbor said. ''She's lived there for about a year and she seems to be OK,'' said Arthur Joerder, whose parents own the rental unit. ``My stepmother knew her before she moved in here. They're friends.'' Muro, who is from South America, lives with her fiancé, Joe Brooks.Muro was being held Friday at the Broward County Jail, with bail set at $152,000.
Herald news partner WFOR Channel 4 contributed to this report.
They're prosecuting a day care provider right now in SD for SBS - RH no SDH. I looked at the medical records myself - the child had a birth injury, severe head molding, etc. They even have an old bleed documented in the opthamology exam - They don't care - Why does a baby have SBS (whiplash, right?) and need so many blood transfusions and Vitamin K? before it dies? Chadwick and the other child abuse experts say the bleeding is due to the shaking not a bleeding coagulapathy.
They don't care about any other diagnosis. The child prot. people took part in the autopsy and have meetings with the ME. They got their "homicide" opinion all right. These prosecuting zealots will shape their testimony to fit their accusation, and after all, why would they make it up? Their only concern is for the abused children! The SD baby had one of the SBS "symptoms" - Retinal hemorrhages, so it must be SBS. It couldn't be anything else, could it? The poor day care provider, who never had a complaint in 7 years of caring for children, is facing a trial and 25-year to life prison sentence. And its so easy to get that conviction when you have a "team" of prosecution doctors against your one or two experts allowed. They typically bring in at least 5 doctors in every case to say it was abuse.
Eyes offer clue to baby's death, prosecutor tells court
By Greg Moran
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
January 28, 2004
There was hardly a mark on little Cooper Kuznitz when he was rushed to Children's Hospital just a few days before Christmas 2002.
It was what could not be readily seen that would end up killing the 4- month-old child. His brain had swollen so much that he had stopped
breathing and, doctors later determined, suffered irreversible brain damage. After two days on a ventilator, Cooper died.
Yesterday in San Diego Superior Court, jurors began hearing the circumstances surrounding Cooper's death to determine who – or what –
killed the boy. Christine Diaz is charged with assaulting a child under 8 and causing death. If convicted, she would face 25 years to life in prison.
Prosecutor Garry Haehnle said the boy died after being violently shaken by Diaz, the 36-year-old day care provider who was caring for
Cooper at her home day care on Edgeware Road in Kensington. The evidence for this, Haehnle told the jury, lies almost exclusively
in the eyes of the dead child. It was in the eyes that doctors at Children's Hospital, where the boy was taken by ambulance the
afternoon of Dec. 20, 2002 after Diaz called 911, found signs of hemorrhaging.
But defense lawyer Christopher Plourd told jurors the child died from undetermined causes, and contended that his client is innocent. He told jurors the hemorrhaging was not the result of shaking, and that by itself hemorrhaging is not conclusive evidence of shaking. He promised to bring in four independent pathologists, who he said reviewed the case and concluded the child was not shaken or harmed by his client. The retinal bleeding, prosecutor Haehnle said, is a telltale sign of violent shaking. Other causes of death were ruled out: The baby had no history of medical problems or illnesses, and the bleeding in the eyes led authorities to rule out Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, hesaid.
In short, there was no other explanation for Cooper's death other than that he was violently shaken, Haehnle said. He told jurors Diaz was under stress and having a difficult time adjusting to Cooper, who had been placed in her care by his parents just a few weeks before. The Spring Valley couple knew Diaz because the father's brother once dated her. Haehnle said Cooper had to be held often, and sometimes would not eat. Diaz was licensed to care for up to six children. Plourd said she was caring for five children the day Cooper was hospitalized. Plourd said numerous character witnesses will testify that Diaz was a compassionate, patient caregiver for their children. "She's the type of person that has always had a very big heart for children," he said. The defense lawyer also said the medical evidence will exonerate his client. Cooper had no injuries when he was brought to the hospital. There were no fractures or bruises typically seen in shaken-baby cases, Plourd said. There were some strange things, though, Plourd said. The baby had a blotchy red rash on his feet and chest and around his mouth, the attorney said. His glucose levels were elevated, as were his sodium levels – anomalies that Plourd did not explain but said indicated "something was going on with this child."
Medical experts for the defense will say that the retinal hemorrhages "mean nothing," Plourd said, and that they can't be relied on to conclude a baby was shaken. He said the extensive efforts to revive the baby, in addition to the effects of being on a respirator for two days, can explain the injuries.
Greg Moran: (619) 542-4586; greg.moran@u...