Watchdog report: Shaken-baby science doubts grow

Controversy over shaken baby syndrome: In a two-day series, the Democrat and Chronicle explores the growing controversy behind shaken baby syndrome – a diagnosis that shaking caused severe injuries or death with a child – and looks at a conviction now under challenge. Video by Tina Yee.

Controversy over shaken baby syndrome: In a two-day series, the Democrat and Chronicle explores the growing controversy behind shaken baby syndrome – a diagnosis that shaking caused severe injuries or death with a child – and looks at a conviction now under challenge. Video by Tina Yee.

Written by Steve Orr
Staff writer-

Eleven years ago, a Greece day-care provider was convicted of murder after the death of a 2½-year-old child who suffered a grievous head injury in the provider’s home.

René Bailey, now 53 years old, remains in state prison.

  Part II: Shaken-baby triad still rules in New York courts

But a pro bono lawyer is out to see her exonerated. The lawyer, Adele Bernhard, has filed a lengthy legal challenge to Bailey’s conviction, hoping to persuade a Monroe County Court judge not just that Bailey is innocent of the crime but that no crime was even committed that fateful day in June 2001.

Bernhard says new evidence, including a startling eyewitness account that came to light after Bailey’s trial, proves little Brittney Sheets’ death was accidental.

“I received a letter from René … and I was immediately intrigued. I thought this was the sort of case where something could have gone wrong,”  said Bernhard, a law professor at Pace University in Westchester County.

At the heart of René Bailey’s conviction, and Bernhard’s legal challenge, is shaken-baby syndrome, the popular term used to describe brain damage suffered by an infant or toddler who is violently shaken by an adult.

Over the last 30 years, shaken-baby syndrome has come to be considered one of the most heinous forms of child abuse. Dozens of people in the Rochester area, and thousands nationwide, have been prosecuted for harming or killing small children in this way.

The scales of justice in these cases often tip on the word of doctors who say they can discern that intentional shaking took place by the nature of the injuries suffered by the young victims.

Many physicians and prosecutors remain confident in those judgments, but some critics say those doctors can be wrong. They claim innocent people have been sent to prison.

René Bailey is one of them, Bernhard believes.

Invoking a state law that allows a defendant to challenge a conviction on the basis of newly discovered evidence, Bernhard has joined what amounts to a full-scale assault on the medical underpinnings of shaken-baby syndrome.

Post-conviction appeals not unlike Bailey’s are being pursued in other states, and in a small but growing number of cases, defendants have been freed or granted new trials.

In New York, where challenging established forensic science in court is especially difficult, none of a handful of similar appeals has succeeded, Bernhard said.

She believes hers could be the first. Bernhard argues that Brittney died after jumping from a chair in Bailey’s home day care and hitting her head. She also argues that the three doctors who testified that Bailey must have shaken Sheets to death were relying on medical knowledge that has since been proved wrong.

“My feeling in René’s case is the verdict is based on science which is invalid,” said Bernhard, whose challenge also asserts Bailey recieved ineffective legal representation at her trial.

In its response to Bernhard’s legal filing, which with exhibits is nearly 350 pages in length, the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office asserts that there is no justification for overturning Bailey’s murder conviction.

The 25-page response defends the medical conclusions used to convict Bailey, and says much of the new science cited by Bernhard either isn’t new or isn’t persuasive. The document also asserts the challenge is legally deficient and re-airs trial evidence about inconsistencies in Bailey’s statements after the incident.

“There’s absolutely nothing new about what they’re bringing now,” said First Assistant District Attorney Kelly Wolford. “To have the massive amount of injuries that this child had to her brain, it’s quite absurd to think this could be suffered by a (short) fall to a carpeted floor.”

Bailey’s challenge was assigned to County Court Judge James Piampiano, who could rule on the basis of the written material submitted by the parties or order a hearing and oral arguments.

Piampiano said recently that  he would decide over the next month or two whether a hearing is warranted.

His decision — to vacate Bailey’s conviction or leave her in prison until at least January 2017, when she first becomes eligible for parole — would not have any precedent value for other New Yorkers in prison on shaken-baby charges.

Among them are at least 12 people from the Rochester area.

Deaths of babies

The term “shaken-baby syndrome” entered the public lexicon in Rochester with a horrible clustering of abuse cases in 1991. Four infants or toddlers died and a fifth was permanently injured in the space of seven months.

Beyond question, adults injure or kill infants and toddlers through physical abuse — by hitting them, throwing them down, burning them or shaking them with great violence.

Defendants often admit to their conduct and say they lost their temper when the child wouldn’t stop crying. Sometimes another adult is present to testify to what happened.

The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome says about 1,300 children annually suffer severe or fatal inflicted head trauma, mainly from shaking or hitting.

A pediatric child abuse expert at Strong Memorial Hospital said it sees eight to 12 cases a year locally in which a child suffered a head injury and abuse is a possible cause.

If a suspect denies having done anything wrong and there are no gross signs of abuse — no broken limbs, fractured skull, dreadful bruises — the circumstances may evolve into a shaken-baby case. These are unusual crimes. There almost never are any witnesses, and rarely any physical evidence. Proof that a crime was committed derives from the conclusions drawn by physicians who say the victim suffered internal injuries that could only have been caused by an abusive adult.

The thinking behind these legal conclusions arose in the late 1960s and 1970s when physicians noted the damage to the brain of a small child that can accrue from a whiplash effect — that is, from the brain being propelled back and forth inside the skull.

If forceful enough, it was thought, such movement can break blood vessels and cause bruising and swelling of the brain, which in turn can lead to serious impairment of brain function or death.

It was widely accepted that shaken-baby conduct was likely to blame if a small child exhibited brain swelling in the absence of significant external injury or a clearly diagnosed illness.

Three specific injuries — bleeding in the retinas and in tissue surrounding the brain, and swelling of the brain — became so linked to shaken-baby syndrome that they became known in medical and criminal justice circles as simply “the triad.”

It also was widely believed that these symptoms could not result from accidents such as short-distance falls.

Further, it was argued that symptoms appeared shortly after the abuse, so the adult who was caring for the child when the injury manifested itself often became the prime suspect.

That describes Bailey, who was the only adult present when little Brittney became unresponsive one afternoon. The child died at Strong Memorial Hospital the following day, and Bailey was arrested the day after that.

Brittney’s mother, Jeanne, said she was aware of Bailey’s legal action but had no comment for this story. In the past, family members have expressed confidence that Bailey was guilty.

Bailey’s protestations at the time of her arrest that the girl had fallen accidentally were brushed aside, for physicians had alerted police to what they believed were signs of abuse. All three of the common symptoms were present.

Later, at her trial, an assistant Monroe County medical examiner testified that abusive shaking was likely responsible for Brittney’s death. The only other thing that could have caused her injuries were “a tornado or some electrocution or some device … like a centrifuge.”

Today, some physicians, biomechanists and lawyers claim that statements such as that are unsupported, and say shaken-baby syndrome is based on theories that were never fully proved.

They believe research over the last 10-plus years has shown that the triad of symptoms can be caused by factors other than shaking a child — falls, accidental trauma, illness or disease.

“Is it a good thing to do to a baby? Absolutely not. Could it cause some sort of sub-lethal injury? I see no reason why it couldn’t,” said Dr. Peter Stephens, a North Carolina forensic pathologist who is one of the best-known critics of traditional shaken-baby science. “But the question is, can shaking alone kill infants? I don’t know.”

Stephens is one of six medical experts who prepared affidavits in support of Bailey’s action.

John Lloyd, an ergonomics researcher for the Veterans Administration in Florida, was asked several years ago by a colleague to look into the physics of shaken-baby syndrome.

He has conducted a series of experiments using crash-test manikins and sensor-laden dolls to measure the amount of force that an adult can impart.

“The results were just so far below injury thresholds that clearly, my position was that shaking was a benign event that could not cause this type of injuries in a normal infant,” Lloyd said.

New evidence?

Sandra Hennessy says she was flabbergasted when she realized what was happening in her Gates home: A little boy had begun to re-enact the events that led to Brittney’s death.

One of her charges at her in-home day care was a little boy named Cameron, who had come to Hennessy’s house after his previous day-care provider — René Bailey — had been arrested and gone out of business.

After a time, Cameron began to engage in a role-playing game with an imaginary Brittney and a stuffed animal he believed had healing powers, said Hennessy, who now lives in Tennessee.

“He would talk to the little girl, Brittney, as if she were there. He would say ‘Jump, Brittney, I know you can do it.’ Then he would run across the playroom and pick up his stuffed blue pig and run back across the room and place it next to his friend Brittney where she was lying,” Hennessy recalled. “He did it the same way every time. He did it a lot.”

Hennessy, who knew of Bailey’s case from news reports, recognized what he was doing and eventually sent Bailey a letter in prison, suggesting Cameron’s behavior was verification of Bailey’s version of events.

Bailey had told Greece police that she had been in a bathroom a few feet from the children when she heard Cameron say, “I know you can do it, Brittney.” She claimed she then heard two bangs and emerged from the bathroom to find the little girl lying on the floor.

Cameron, who was 2½ years old then, told his parents that evening that Brittney had jumped from a chair, according to police reports. But a judge ruled he was too young to provide testimony at the trial.

His father, whose name is being withheld by the Democrat and Chronicle to avoid identifying Cameron, declined to comment for this story.

Bailey’s legal filing includes an affidavit from Hennessy and one from a child psychologist in a bid to have the woman’s observations about Cameron’s behavior considered new evidence of her innocence.

The District Attorney’s Office discounts the affidavits on legal and practical grounds, and notes the idea that Brittney was hurt in a fall was aired at her trial.

A defense medical expert had testified, in fact, that a fall or stumbling jump from an 18-inch-high chair and resulting blow to the head on a carpeted floor could have been responsible. Testimony showed that Brittney had jumped from a couch at Bailey’s day care months earlier and hit her head hard enough to require a hospital visit.

But the prosecution’s experts testified otherwise. One pediatrician testified that a fall from a distance less than 10 feet had “never” caused a serious brain injury in a child.

That testimony, which was in line with the thinking of most physicians, carried the day with the jury.

To some extent, the thinking on falls has changed. “It is now beyond dispute that short-distance falls, like that described in this case, can kill,” Bernhard wrote in her legal filing in the case.

Several scientific papers have documented this. The first of them may have been a 2001 paper documenting 18 fatal falls from heights as low as a foot or two, including one that was captured on videotape.

“At that point, it was almost like a light bulb went off,” Stephens said.

While short-distance falls can be fatal, the question remains how often this happens.

“Kids fall a lot,” said Dr. Ann Lenane, an associate professor of pediatrics at University of Rochester Medical Center who was not involved in the Bailey case and spoke only about general issues.

“Our common-sense experience leads us to believe it would be very unusual — not impossible but very unusual — for the normal household falls, the short falls, to lead to serious injury. Studies looking at childhood falls confirm this.”

In 2009, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended “shaken-baby syndrome” be set aside for “abusive head trauma,” a broader term that encompasses baby-shaking but also other forms of child abuse that leave children with neurological problems.

The academy  also urged its members to consider all possibilities before coming to a conclusion.

Lenane said it is customary to do that, and that the notion that doctors make snap judgments about shaken babies is just wrong.

“I think it was always the case that doctors would look at the patient, think of the diagnoses that could be responsible for the child’s condition, do the tests for those diagnoses and try to come up with the correct diagnosis,” she said. “In my time in the field it was never like a slam dunk as far as ‘You’ve got A, you’ve got B, you’ve got C, you’ve got shaken-baby.’ It was never like that.”

Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo, whose office has prosecuted several shaken-baby cases, said doctors who have testified for him say they are ultra-cautious. “They know it’s a devastating diagnosis to issue. So they want to rule out every possible other theory before they do that,” he said.

Tantillo also said critics like Stephens who challenge shaken-baby syndrome’s scientific underpinnings are “an extremely small minority voice.

“There is a tremendous amount of peer-reviewed medical literature that supports the concept of shaken-baby injuries and very, very, very little if any peer-reviewed literature that contradicts it,” he said

Stephens said he thinks new opinions about shaken-baby syndrome are taking hold, if slowly.

“Obviously, when you have a lot of doctors in the county, the light doesn’t go on for everybody at the same time. Now, it’s 50-50,” Stephens said, estimating the proportion of physicians who accept the newer findings.

Dr. Caroline Dignan, the Monroe County medical examiner, said she believes the triad of symptoms can be evidence of shaken-baby syndrome — but that alternative explanations should be considered as well.

“I think there’s been a big push not just in the forensics community but also in the medical community to understand the mechanisms of the injuries,” she said.

Bernhard is optimistic.

“In the medical community, they’re already trying to think about what they can do to differentiate cases where there has been child abuse from cases where there hasn’t been,” she said. “I think that everyone’s paying attention and trying to be more intelligent in their approach to their material.”

For official source see:

Related Links
Categories: Uncategorized

Watchdog report: Shaken-baby triad still rules in New York courts

Barbara and Dan Hershey pose for a photograph last month with their grandson, Carter Coston. / Photo provided by Darby Perrotte

Barbara and Dan Hershey pose for a photograph last month with their grandson, Carter Coston. / Photo provided by Darby Perrotte

Written by
Gary Craig
Staff writer-

The case of Barbara Hershey — an Ontario County grandmother convicted of killing a 4-month-old boy — seemed to her appellate lawyers to be the perfect opportunity to attack the science of shaken-baby syndrome.

Shaken-baby syndrome — a diagnosis of brain trauma triggered by the vigorous shaking of a child — has come under challenge in recent years. Hershey was convicted of causing the fatal injuries inflicted upon her stepgrandson, Ethan Hershey, by shaking him.

Part I: Doubts grow in shaken-baby science

“I thought this was a good case to challenge the science and we challenged it as thoroughly and persuasively as we could,” said Rochester lawyer William Easton, who represented Hershey in an appeal of her conviction.

However, when Barbara Hershey’s case was heard in 2011 by the Rochester region’s appellate division of state Supreme Court, the judges spent little time discussing the science.

That lack of discussion about shaken-baby syndrome is illustrative of a medical diagnosis that has yet to see a robust challenge in New York’s appellate courts, where legal precedents are made. And critics of shaken-baby syndrome — ranks that are growing in number — say that courts can be an ill-suited venue for shifting beliefs in science.

“The problem is the legal system moves and changes in terms of decades,” said Dr. Peter Stephens, a North Carolina forensic pathologist and prominent critic of shaken-baby syndrome. “The medical system can change in months, literally.”

But believers in the syndrome’s science say that the diagnosis is legally entrenched because it is reliable.

The “vast majority of qualified doctors in the fields that deal with this issue are convinced of the existence of what we used to call shaken-baby syndrome and what may now be called inflicted head trauma,” said Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo, who prosecuted Hershey.

Relying on the conclusions of medical experts, investigators and prosecutors determined that Barbara Hershey must have viciously shaken her stepgrandson and created the injuries that are the centerpiece of a shaken-baby diagnosis.

For years, those injuries — retinal bleeding, swelling of the brain and a collection of blood on the brain’s surface — have stood as the evidentiary hallmark of shaken-baby syndrome. But a growing field of research is now challenging those diagnostic conclusions, which are often referred to as the “triad” of symptoms.

“The thing that really is troubling in the shaken-baby context is … the prosecution rests solely on the science,” said University of Wisconsin law professor Keith Findley, who has written extensively about shaken-baby syndrome. “In the classic ‘triad-based’ shaken-baby case, the medical opinion and the so-called scientific evidence is the whole case.”

Challenging science

One of the leading critics of a shaken-baby syndrome diagnosis, DePaul University law professor Deborah Tuerkheimer, sees an altering legal landscape. For years, she said, the defense mounted minimal challenges to claims of injuries or deaths attributed to shaken-baby syndrome.

Now, she said, research challenging the diagnosis is available, and even prosecutors seem more wary of relying solely on the triad of injuries as proof of shaken-baby syndrome.

“I think there is more challenge to the science than there used to be,” said Tuerkheimer, whose 2010 New York Times opinion piece questioning shaken-baby syndrome sparked a tsunami of criticism typical of the impassioned debate.

In some cases, other evidence exists of abuse, such as signs that a child may have been slammed to a floor or wall, or beaten. But without physical proof beyond the triad of symptoms, a trial often becomes a duel between experts, and a jury is left with nothing beyond a choice between the medical opinions.

“When science has been accepted for years, it’s the default (in court) and it’s admissible,” said Drew DuBrin, who heads the appellate bureau of the Monroe County Public Defender’s Office.

Since the early and mid-1990s, when shaken-baby prosecutions seemed to reach a peak in the Rochester area, multiple cases locally have hinged on expert testimony. And, in some cases, defense lawyers alleged there were alternative reasons for the injuries.

For instance:

• In 1993 a jury found Rochester resident Timothy Jackson not guilty of murder in the death of a 2-year-old child he was babysitting. The jury instead convicted him only of misdemeanor reckless endangerment.

Prosecution experts testified that the injuries were evidence of shaken-baby syndrome, while Jackson’s lawyer, Donald Rehkopf Jr., claimed the injuries could have occurred when the child stuck a fork in an outlet.

With no evidence other than medical analyses “these are incredibly difficult cases to try,” Rehkopf said. “… There are valid cases of ‘shaken-baby,’ but usually there are corroborating fractures.”

• In 2003, Dexter Mastowski of Clifton Springs was convicted of first-degree assault after a jury decided that he had shaken his 2½-month-old daughter so severely that she was left brain damaged. A defense expert theorized that vaccines could have caused the injuries, but prosecution experts maintained that the symptoms were clearly indicative of shaken-baby syndrome.

Mastowski still claims his innocence, while Tantillo said he is certain nothing but shaking would cause the injuries that the infant suffered.

• In 2010, after only two hours of deliberation, a Yates County jury acquitted Shari Cotroneo in a case in which a 1-year-old boy in her care fell ill and later died. Some medical experts attributed the cause to shaken-baby syndrome, but defense experts highlighted an earlier skull fracture as the likely cause of the death.

That defense was bolstered by a nurse, a surprise witness who came forth during the trial, who indicated that the child’s mother had asked her about how to deal with a child who may have suffered a head injury, according to Cotroneo’s attorney, Thomas Splain.

Convicted grandmother

Barbara Hershey was 65 years old when 4-month-old Ethan Hershey — her stepgrandson — died after a medical incident in her care in October 2005.

Hershey said that she had been giving Ethan a bottle when he stiffened and then went limp. She said she laid the listless infant on the floor, then, using directions from a 911 dispatcher, tried cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, to revive him.

Ethan was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital, where he died three weeks later. Medical and police officials determined that Ethan had been a victim of shaken-baby syndrome, and that Hershey must have severely shaken the child and created the “triad” of injuries that are the centerpiece of the diagnosis.

Ethan also had blood in his chest cavity, which can be a sign that a lung was collapsed by force.

According to Tantillo, physicians looked for causes of Ethan’s death other than shaken-baby syndrome. But the injuries left experts certain that shaking was the sole explanation.

“The case was an absolute tragedy, but the fact that the child was on life support for three weeks gave the doctors a fantastic opportunity to explore every other possible alternative, and they couldn’t find one,” he said.

At the 2007 trial, both the prosecution and defense utilized experts in the field to debate the science behind the shaken-baby syndrome. Evidence also showed that Ethan had an earlier subdural hematoma — a collection of blood in the brain’s outer lining — that was 2 to 4 weeks old.

A jury convicted Hershey, and a judge sentenced her to the maximum of five to 15 years.

Hershey still insists on her innocence, just as Tantillo is adamant about her guilt.

Her son, Gregory Coston, and his wife, Darby Perrotte, say that evidence unearthed since the conviction strengthen their belief in Hershey’s innocence.

For one, the 911 operator whom Hershey called after Ethan went lifeless gave her instructions for adult CPR, which is more forceful than that applied to an infant and could explain the blood in the chest and other injuries.

After the conviction, Coston secretly taped Ethan’s father in what Coston said is an apparent admission that Ethan had struggled with health issues.

In the conversation, Ethan’s father, David Hershey, acknowledges that he once described his son as a “ticking time bomb” and says, “I knew something was wrong with him.”

Some of the new information was used in an unsuccessful appeal in 2009.

In 2011 a new set of attorneys, including Easton and his law partner Brian Shiffrin, filed a new appeal laden with questions about the reliability of a shaken-baby diagnosis.

That appeal noted that shaken-baby syndrome was first highlighted in 1972, but, the court papers said, “has since been tested and the experimental results are inconsistent with the theory and its underlying assumptions.” Tantillo answered in court papers that shaken-baby syndrome still had wide support, including acceptance from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of Medical Examiners.

The challenge to shaken-baby syndrome “is maintained by a small fringe of professionals, many of whom make a very good living testifying in court on this subject,” Tantillo wrote.

In oral arguments the appellate division judges asked few questions about the science. In June 2011, they denied Hershey’s appeal, determining that the jury properly balanced the conflicting evidence at trial.

The appellate judges did determine that Hershey’s sentence was too severe and reduced it to two to six years. Hershey had no criminal past, her crime was unintentional, and even Ethan’s parents had urged that she not be jailed, the appellate judges ruled.

Hershey was released not long afterward under parole supervision. She was released from supervision after a year.

Her lawyers asked for New York’s highest court and the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider the conviction. Both courts declined to do so.

For the official source of this article and video clip, see:

Related Links
Categories: Uncategorized

Snapshot Device Helps Clear Father in Baby’s Death

beardCLEVELAND– Two years after an infant died, her father has been acquitted of charges in connection with her death because of something in his car.

Michael Beard, 28, was found not guilty by a jury on Monday in a Cuyahoga County courtroom.

The former nursing assistant was accused of suffocating his seven-month-old daughter in May of 2011.

According to Beard’s defense lawyer, Beard stopped by his daughter’s mom’s house on West 122nd Street when he found Lynniah unresponsive in her infant swing.

Beard immediately took the child to the hospital where she later died.

Authorities accused Beard of suffocating his daughter so she would start crying to get her mother’s attention.

“We’re all sad that baby Lynniah died. There was no reason for that; but it was an accident,” said Michael Cheselka, Jr., Beard’s lawyer. “She, mom, had been told to put the baby in the swing and let it sleep upright because it had acid reflux disease but any baby that size can slump down and not have the strength to lift its head up.”

Beard’s case wrapped-up on Monday when a jury found him not guilty.

A key piece of evidence was a Snapshot device from Progressive. The insurance company offers the device to customers looking to lower their rates.

According to a statement from the company, “[the] Progressive Snapshot is an optional program where you plug a small device into your car to record your safe driving habits in exchange for personalized insurance rates based on your actual driving behavior. The device doesn’t have GPS or know who’s driving the car, so it doesn’t track vehicle location or know whether you’re speeding. Snapshot tracks how often you slam on the brakes, how many miles you drive and time of day.”

In this case, the information was able to prove that Beard wasn’t in the house long enough to kill his daughter. “He said, I can prove to you I was not there long enough to do what they’re accusing me of doing,” said the attorney.

“I think it’s great that we’ve got technology like that because he would’ve spend his life in jail for nothing,” said a Cleveland resident. “Yeah, it’s a good thing,” said another Cleveland resident. “If he didn’t have it, he’d be sitting in jail – couldn’t prove his innocence!”

A spokesperson for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office told FOX 8 News, “Our office is respectfully declining to comment on the outcome of this case. The case is now over. Michael Beard was found not guilty.”

Beard’s attorney said his client now hopes to get his job back so he can support his two other children.

“He still grieves for the loss of his daughter and now he can do so without also carrying around the mantle of being falsely accused of murder,” said Cheselka.

For source and to view news broadcast please see:

Categories: Uncategorized

Shaken Baby Syndrome Accusations A Modern Day Witch Hunt


Abuse of children is a real problem. People who commit the crime deserve the full fury of law. However, it is very important that evidence based science instead of the old SBS dogma be used in distinguishing cases where abuse actually occurs as opposed to trauma occurring for other reasons. In the Li’s case, 5 months after the passing away of their beloved daughter Annie, and still in deep bereavement over the loss of their beloved child, Hangbin and Ying were incarcerated, not knowing why.

Last month (October), which is almost 5 years after their initial incarceration, Hangbin was offered a plea bargain which was really tempting. This poor young man was offered the choice of immediate freedom at the price of his innocence. The mental torture he suffered was inhumane. “To be or not to be, that is the question.” He called family members, supporters and friends for advice. He asked me and my wife: “If I were your son, what would you tell me?” We cried. Oh God, what this man has suffered I would not wish my worst enemy to go through.

Finally, Hangbin made a decision. While he almost ended up accepting the offer, a sudden idea struck him. As a victim of false SBS allegations, he felt that no one else should suffer as he did. From various literatures, he had learned that the number of people who have been wrongly accused of SBS is far more than he imagined. He started to ask himself these questions: Does this (false allegation/conviction) have to go on and on? Why do I have to admit to something I did not do? Do innocent people have to be accused and convicted of something they have not done and do nothing about it? On top of that, he has already lost Annie; he can’t afford to lose Ying and his second daughter Angela (he will be deported when the court releases him if he admits to any charge against him). They are the love of his life.

Baby Annie was born with mutated gene and had spent her first few days in the NICU. In a DNA test done on Annie’s tissue a couple of months back, defective gene relating to OI (Osteogenesis Imperfecta) had been detected. “ It would be important to understand other inherited conditions in Annie’s family that might have created a situation that looked like shaken baby syndrome but was in fact, attributed to something else,” said Dr. Sessions Cole, director of newborn medicine at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

If one would just spend some time researching the SBS literature and talk to the wrongly accused in depth, he/she will be taken aback at the absurdity of the triad based SBS assumptions which the prosecutors resorted to in the conviction of many parents/caregivers. You can’t help but ask one question again and again: Given the wide array of solid scientific research that questions the validity of SBS theory, why does the judicial system still choose to turn a deaf ear to evidence based science? Even former supporters of the SBS theory such as the renowned Dr. Norman Guthkelch and Dr. Patrick Barnes, are now advising caution before choosing a SBS diagnosis. Dr. Guthkelch is credited with founding the syndrome in 1971.

How can the criminal justice system and law enforcement officers, hold high the banner of justice on one hand, but on the other, refuse to look at truth? How many ears must one law officer have before he can hear innocent people cry? How many wrongful imprisonments will it take till he knows that too many people have been falsely convicted? This is a very serious question that every concerned citizen should think about. The protection of children is a measure of society’s progress. There are people who abuse children. They should be given the gravest penalty that the law allows. But do we have the right to punish the innocent just because we know that there are heinous child abusers out there so that scarifying the innocent can be justified in the name of protecting children? A humanistic society should not allow that.

We need a rigid diagnostic protocol to be applied to SBS cases to prevent medical professionals from jumping to conclusions as soon as they see the 3 symptoms of shaken baby syndrome. Dr. Guthkelch says it’s time to get all interested parties together to get them to agree on what can be said with scientific certainty about shaken baby syndrome. How much longer do we have to wait until this is accomplished? The sword of Damocles could fall on anyone as long as the triad based diagnosis is allowed to reign supreme.


Hangbin & Ying Li Rescue Committee/Michael Chu

Despite Evidence From Discredited Medical Examiner Mississippi’s Jeffrey Havard Nears Execution

Jeffrey Havard, 34, has been on death row in Parchman Penitentiary since 2002. He was convicted of murdering Chloe Britt, the six-month-old daughter of his girlfriend at the time. Havard claims he was giving the child a bath when, as he was lifting her from the tub, she slipped from his hands and fell, hitting her head on the toilet on the way down. By the time paramedics arrived with her at the hospital, Britt’s eyes were fixed and dilated, and she had turned blue. She died a short time later. Steven Hayne, a Mississippi medical examiner in private practice, performed an autopsy on the infant. He claimed to have found the symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), a diagnosis that comes with the implication that the last person to be alone with the child was the one who killed her. Because the symptoms can only be produced by violent shaking, the diagnosis also comes with a built-in indictment of the suspect’s state of mind. It’s a diagnosis that does much of the prosecutor’s work for him.

But SBS has come under fire in recent years. A number of experts have begun to question the validity of the diagnosis and how it’s used in court, pointing out, for example, that a number of other factors could cause the symptoms that experts have been telling juries could be caused only by shaking. But even if one were to accept SBS as a sound and legitimate diagnosis, other forensic pathologists say Hayne shouldn’t have found it in this case. – Full post below:

Radley Balko

Senior Writer and Investigative Reporter, The Huffington Post

We also encourage you to sign the petition requesting that Jeffrey Havard be granted a new trial:


Brainwashed Police Prosecute Parents to Protect Vaccines

By: Christina England

Nov 8th, 2012

Ex-Police Sergeant Chris Savage

I have been very honored to work with retired Sergeant Christopher Savage of the Queensland Police Service during the past few months. Mr. Savage contacted me after watching the short film I recently published on VacTruth highlighting cases of false accusations of child abuse after vaccine injuries. [1] The evidence of sheer corruption he revealed sent shivers down my spine.

His papers confirm that the police are writing off cases of possible vaccine injury as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. They also highlight the fact that due to biased and inadequate training, the police are falsely accusing parents of manslaughter and Shaken Baby Syndrome and parents killing their own children because they have been brainwashed to search for signs of abuse, assault and foul play whenever a child dies.


Christopher William Savage joined the Queensland Police Service in 1989 at the age of 27. His training took place at the Oxley Police Academy and was completed six months later.

He had no particular views on vaccines before joining the police force and said that he cannot recall any real discussions on the topic of vaccinations while growing up. This perspective changed, however, when he received his Hepatitis B vaccine in October 1989 with his colleagues.

Sergeant Savage explained that after receiving the Hep B vaccine as part of the squad, he became totally exhausted. He spent the next two weeks in bed hardly able to stand up. When he asked a mainstream medical practitioner if the vaccine could have caused his symptoms, he was given a categorical no, and told that this suspicion would be impossible. Despite being reassured by the medical practitioner, Savage remains convinced to this day that the vaccine was responsible for his becoming so ill. His experience opened his eyes to a deeper evil still occurring, which I believe will rock the beliefs of many parents.


Sergeant Savage has given me a copy of a signed statement, which has been countersigned by JP N. Newbury (Qualified Number 10175) of the Gympie Magistrates Court office, stating his belief that vaccines are the cause of many cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). He believes innocent parents are also being blamed and are being falsely charged with manslaughter when babies die.

The statement identifies clearly and succinctly a variety of cases in which babies appear fit and healthy on the day of their vaccination but deteriorate after they received the vaccine. He has revealed a clear catalog of cover-ups used by the police force and the medical professionals. He has exposed the fact that every case is treated as if it were a case of manslaughter and newly bereaved parents and parents of critically ill children are being interrogated as prime suspects and potential child abusers. Their homes are being ransacked for clues and precious possessions such as sheets, mattresses and medications are being bagged up as forensic evidence. Their homes are being treated as possible crime scenes.

Sergeant Savage’s statement closes with these words:

“I understand that a person who intentionally makes a false statement in a statutory declaration is guilty of an offense under section 11 of the Statutory Declarations Act of 1959, and I believe that the statements in this declaration are true in every particular.”

(I have been given permission to include this valuable document as part of my research on VacTruth.) [2]

The police are supposed to be unbiased and nonjudgmental, examining all the evidence, no matter how small, in order to determine why an individual has died. However, it appears that whenever vaccination is suggested as a possible cause of death, the police are choosing to ignore this evidence in favor of SIDS, child abuse and manslaughter.

Intrigued by the document, I asked Mr. Savage if he would provide me with an interview for VacTruth, which he agreed to do.


To clarify the normal series of events that occurs in cases of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), I asked Sergeant Savage what happens when a baby dies an unexpected death.

Sgt. Savage: When a baby dies suddenly from so-called SIDS, the parents become subjects of an investigation by medical staff and First Response police. If either of those find anything suspicious then detectives become involved. If both parents have a similar version that is credible they will most likely not face any prosecution. However, if there are inconsistencies in their stories, then the police look further into the matter.

Sole parents and de facto parents are the most likely to face prosecution because they don’t have the same stability and some even suspect the other parent of having done something wrong, especially when the police start asking questions about their partner.

Christina England: Do you believe that the police, along with the medical profession, are blaming parents as a cover for vaccine damage?

Sgt. Savage:  I believe the police are not realizing what has happened and don’t even look at the evidence pointing towards vaccines causing [infant death] , as their minds are stuck in the SIDS scam diagnosis that is prevailing in everyone’s mind due to annual RED NOSE day nonsense.

Christina England:  Could you outline exactly what you believe?

What he answered will shock many parents across the world.

Sgt. Savage:  The police officer is a member of the pro-vaccine brainwashed society and joins the Police Service where the SIDS mindset is already held. When he or she is tasked to attend a baby death, not only does the officer believe SIDS is real but they are also trained to look for signs of abuse and assault and manslaughter. So there is brainwashing on SIDS pushing the officer away from looking at vaccines and their training is to find evidence of foul play, which includes side effects of vaccines. The parents are too traumatized to think rationally and when the police start asking them questions about the other parent they become frightened, paranoid and defensive. The body is taken to a doctor for an autopsy to find out why the baby died. So there is another problem.

Doctors receive more pro-vaccine training than the public and so they won’t think of the vaccines as being the cause. The police also don’t want to rock the boat. They want to finalize the file. So in the absence of corroborating forensic evidence the police and doctors will most likely describe the case as SIDS.


Christina England: In your view at what point in the proceedings are parents being falsely accused of manslaughter or Shaken Baby Syndrome?

Sgt. Savage: Parents become subjects of the investigation regardless … in other words, police are looking for evidence of wrongdoing by anyone living in the house where a person dies, and of course, this includes babies. In the case of babies, police are told to seize clothing, medication and bedding for forensic analysis.

The shaken baby accusation may come if a parent recalls to police that they picked up [the dead baby] and shook the baby … or the autopsy finds physical signs such as bruising, broken ribs and the swollen or inflamed cerebral cortex.

The problem I have with the above scenario is that, in my experience, many parents who find their baby unresponsive, limp and lifeless, pick the infant up and give them a gentle shake to try to revive them. Parents may also be wrongly accused of shaking their baby to death if they inadvertently use the word ‘shake’ when they actually mean to say ‘bounce’ or ‘pat.’ [3]

Christina England:  Are you telling me that in the majority of cases when parents admit that they have picked up their unresponsive child and given them a gentle shake in order to revive them, at the time of questioning, this will automatically be logged as abuse?

Sgt. Savage: Exactly right, Christina. The way you described the gentle shaking is exactly what I meant, but the police are pre-programmed to identify Shaken Baby Syndrome, so as soon as they hear one of the parents say these words, the investigating officers misconstrue and begin questioning along the lines of Shaken Baby Syndrome and ask, “How much did you shake the baby?” and “Have you previously shaken the baby?” and “What happened after shaking?” They then ask, “Has your partner ever lost control and smacked the baby?” and “Has he ever shaken the baby in a rage?” The parent goes from primary witness to suspect for a serious crime and [parents] sense this and panic and police may interpret this as guilt. The police then write this on the report to the coroner and to the doctor doing the autopsy.

Often in de facto relationships, the other party may be abusive towards the baby and the mother. In these cases, police go after the father with vengeance because they honestly believe the father has done something to cause the death or injury, which the vaccines caused.


Sergeant Savage explained that there are several signs that can be misinterpreted as evidence against the parents. These are:

• Bruising

• Inconsistent versions of events from parents

• Bruising and broken ribs

• Swollen cerebral cortex

He explained that, in most cases dealt with by the police, the baby will have some bruising. However, when a baby dies, bruising is then considered to be evidence of the parent being abusive.

He added that this interpretation of the evidence could be incorrect, as ambulance staff sometimes gives CPR, which can cause bruising and broken ribs, which he says is then blamed on the parents. Inconsistent versions of events from parents, who are understandably upset at this very difficult time, can also lead to police attacking their credibility. Savage stated that the most common outcome is to take the option of writing the file in conjunction with medical opinion as SIDS without prosecution.

Christina England: Do you feel that too many cases where vaccines could be the cause of death are being written off as either SIDS or abuse, instead of being fully investigated?

Sgt. Savage: Yes. Vaccine damage is rarely ever looked at … pointing the finger of blame at parents is frequently done and the most common action is to simply write off as SIDS. The investigators could and should ask parents about their baby’s health prior to vaccines. It would eventually expose the vaccines for being the root cause of injury and death that it is.

Sergeant Savage also believes with certainty that any evidence of vaccines being a possible cause of sudden infant death is likely to be buried.

Sgt. Savage: The parents rarely make the connection with vaccines because they are so tired due to the impact of vaccines on their baby’s sleep, hence theirs. If they raise concern, the police should put it in the report, but the doctor who does the autopsy will see that and most likely dismiss it. There is pressure on the police not to rock the boat, too. That sort of information may save a parent from prosecution at least. [emphasis added]


Are the police simply unaware that vaccinations can cause injury and death? Or, are they very aware and this is why they will do all they can to cover up this fact? After all, the evidence has been there for years. (See “For Further Research” at the end of this article.)

It seems to me extremely odd that the very paper Sergeant Savage said his colleague had planted into the possession of a prisoner charged with Shaken Baby Syndrome was Shaken Baby Syndrome – The Vaccination Link by Dr. Viera Scheibner [4] especially when you consider that this prisoner believed that his child had died after he received his vaccinations.

Sergeant Savage gives a very damning account of what really is going on behind the scenes. It is shocking how cases of possible vaccine injury are being covered up, written off as SIDS and blamed on innocent parents in what appears to be a worldwide cover-up to protect the vaccine industry at any cost.

Sergeant Savage makes abundantly clear through his statement and interview that in many of the cases he has been involved in and knows of, the children only became ill after vaccination. As the police are brainwashed to believe that all vaccines are safe, it has become an appalling policy for all parents to be viewed as potential perpetrators of manslaughter.

Sadly, any child can suffer a severe reaction after a vaccination. In some cases, children do die after receiving vaccines. Is it fair for that grieving parent to then be interrogated by the police as a murder suspect?

Imagine how you would feel if this tragedy happened to your baby. As a grieving parent, would you want to be questioned by the police as a matter of routine? Could you imagine how painful the death of a child is and how easy it would be, as a distraught parent, to say the wrong thing? After all, you would be in shock, very scared and deeply saddened.

In reality, many parents have endured the nightmare of being falsely accused of their child’s death. Some of them are behind bars today after being falsely accused and convicted of manslaughter after their child suffered fatal vaccine injuries. To help save parents from additional agony, when they are already facing the most heartbreaking loss imaginable, people like Sergeant Christopher Savage have to decided to speak out and risk everything to break the silence.


I would like to thank Sergeant Christopher Savage who has provided all the information contained in this article. I believe his bravery will help many families faced with false accusations of child abuse and manslaughter after vaccine injuries.

~ In loving memory of Amanda Sadowsky and Cameron Bruce ~

~ In loving memory of Amanda Sadowsky and Cameron Bruce ~



1. England, Christina. False Accusations of Child Abuse After Vaccine Induced Injuries Destroys Families.

2. Sergeant Christopher William Savage: Commonwealth of Australia – STATUTORY DECLARATION – Statutory Declarations Act of 1959.

3.  As Fox News 4 – Did Innocent Father Plead Guilty to Baby’s Death?

4. Shaken Baby Syndrome: The Vaccination Link.


Scheibner, Dr. Viera. Cot Watch Studies.

Baraff, L.J. et al. Possible Temporal Association Between Diphtheria-Tetanus Toxoid-Pertussis Vaccination and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Pediatric Infectious Disease. 1983 Jan-Feb; 2(1):7-11. PMID: 6835859.

Coulter, Harris L. SIDS and Seizures.

Stewart, Gordon T. The Whooping Cough Vaccination.  Here’s Health. March 1980.

For documents please see original posting:


Examining Shaken Baby Syndrome Convictions in Light of New Medical Scientific Research

Keith A. Findley

University of Wisconsin Law School

October 10, 2012

Oklahoma City University Law Review, Vol. 37, No. 2, 2012
Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1210

This is the text of a talk given by Keith Findley as part of the Integris Law & Medicine Lecture Series at Oklahoma City University School of Law on September 27, 2011, with commentary by Dr. Patrick Barnes, Professor David Moran, and Professor Carrie Sperling. The talks address controversies that have arisen in the past ten or twelve years over the diagnosis Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) (now known also more expansively as Abusive Head Trauma (AHT)) and prosecution of individuals based on the hypothesis that the child was injured or died after an adult caregiver violently shook the child. The talks examine the science-dependent nature of prosecutions (or child removal actions) based on the shaking hypothesis, as well as emerging controversies from new medical research about whether shaking can cause such injuries and death, at least without causing extensive neck and cervical spine injuries; whether the indicators previously attributed almost exclusively to shaking — such as subdural hematomas and retinal hemorrhages — are indeed diagnostic of abuse; whether other causes, both natural and accidental, can mimic abuse and lead medical professionals astray; and whether the onset of clear neurological impairment can reliably be timed to the infliction of injuries so that the medical science can be used to identity the perpetrator (assuming there was one). This talk examines how the legal system is being called upon to re-examine SBS convictions in light of this evolving medical science.


See Source to Download Full Paper


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 168 other followers