"The cause of injuries associated with shaken-baby syndrome has been disputed in recent years by medical and biomechanical experts. As a result, several high-profile shaken-baby cases in Wisconsin have been challenged in court.
In its written opinion, the appeals court also found the jury did not hear testimony that Madelyn might not have immediately showed symptoms of her injury and jurors were told inaccurate information about her spinal injury. The description of the injuries were key in the diagnosis of shaken-baby syndrome, the court wrote."
WAUSAU DAILY HERALD;
PUBLISHER'S VIEW: This Blog is following developments in this case very closely because it bears so directly on the increasingly dramatic shift in medical opinion in North America and elsewhere - and because of the role played in the case by Dr. Robert Huntington, who had the professional integrity to come forward after changing his opinion on the medical evidence in the case.
HAROLD LEVY. PUBLISHER. THE CHARLES SMITH BLOG;
BACKGROUND: FROM PREVIOUS POST; THE CHARLES SMITH BLOG; MARCH 18, 2001; QUENTIN LOUIS: WISCONSIN APPEAL COURT DECISION; IMPORTANT CASE; ACKNOWLEDGES SHIFTING MEDICAL KNOWLEDGE; PATHOLOGIST CHANGED OPINION; PASSAGES FROM COURT OF APPEALS WISCONSIN; AFFIRMING LOWER COURT'S DECISION ORDERING A NEW TRIAL FOR QUENTIN LOUIS;
"¶7 Louis sought a new trial in a postconviction motion, raising newly discovered evidence, ineffective assistance of counsel, and interest of justice arguments. Underlying each argument was the notion that the jury should have heard medical testimony from expert defense witnesses regarding possible alternative causes of Madelyn's death. Louis relied on State v. Edmunds, 2008 WI App 33, ¶23, 308 Wis.2d 374, 746 N.W.2d 590, in which we noted the emergence of a "legitimate and significant dispute within the medical community as to the cause" of those symptoms commonly associated with shaken baby syndrome.
¶8 Doctor Patrick Barnes, a pediatric neuroradiologist, testified on Louis's behalf at the postconviction hearing. His testimony revealed that until 1998, the medical community viewed the presence of some or all of a triad of symptoms—retinal and subdural hemorrhaging and brain injury—as exclusively characteristic of shaken baby syndrome. Barnes found substantial qualitative problems in the medical literature supporting the triad theory.1 Although the triad of symptoms may indicate shaken baby syndrome, the medical community no longer considers those symptoms exclusively characteristic of that form of abuse. Barnes noted recent biomechanical literature that concluded the type of brain injury commonly associated with shaken baby syndrome requires some type of impact and cannot be caused by shaking alone. In addition, Barnes testified that an injured child might experience a lengthy lucid interval, during which the child could display nonspecific symptoms like "irritability, maybe excessive crying, poor feeding, [or] not sleeping or sleeping too much ...." Barnes' review of Madelyn's medical records led him to conclude that her injuries were not characteristic of abuse and did not implicate Louis as Madelyn's last caretaker. In Barnes' opinion, no medical expert could determine with any certainty what in particular caused the injuries that led to Madelyn's death.
¶9 Doctor Jerome Plunkett, who also testified for Louis at the postconviction hearing, stated definitively that Madelyn "wasn't shaken." When an infant is shaken, the force travels through the neck before reaching the head. According to Plunkett, shaking a baby severely enough to cause hemorrhaging in the brain will also cause "structural failure of the neck." Madelyn showed no structural neck damage. In addition, Plunkett testified that Madelyn's retinal hemorrhaging could not have been caused by shaking. He also noted that Madelyn had an unexplained chronic subdural hematoma that occurred at least a month before her death. In short, Plunkett found "no evidence that shaking had anything to do with Madelyn's collapse on the 18th or her original subdural hematoma." He concluded that Madelyn's treating physicians simply assumed she had shaken baby syndrome.
¶10 Doctor Huntington was recalled by the State at the postconviction hearing. To the State's surprise, Huntington changed two key aspects of his trial testimony. Huntington indicated that, contrary to his trial testimony, he now believed that shaking could not cause severe brain injury without an impact. Huntington also stated that certain spinal cord injuries he observed in Madelyn and mentioned at trial were not confirmed by subsequent neuropathologic examination and "should not be trusted.".........
We additionally note that the jury may view Louis's confession in a different light with the aid of the new medical testimony. We conclude the circuit court properly exercised its discretion when ordering a new trial in the interest of justice."
"An Athens man jailed for nearly six years will get a second chance to prove he didn’t shake his infant daughter to death in 2005," the Wausau Daily Hera;d story published earlier today under the heading, "Shaken baby case headed for trial after Supreme Court declines to hear case," begins.
"Quentin Louis, 30, will get a new trial after the Wisconsin Supreme Court announced today that it will not review his case," the story continues.
"Marathon County prosecutors asked for the review after the Wisconsin Court of Appeals Third District based in Wausau in March upheld a circuit court judge’s August 2009 decision to grant Louis a new trial.
A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday in Marathon County Circuit Court to set future court dates.
Louis was home alone March 18, 2005, with his 4-month-old daughter, Madelyn, when she became limp and stopped breathing, according to police. She died three days later. Madelyn’s death was diagnosed as shaken-baby syndrome.
During a three-hour interview with police, Louis said he became frustrated with Madelyn's crying and shook her as hard as he could, according to court documents. Prosecutors used Louis' confession and medical evidence about her injuries to convince a jury Louis was guilty of first-degree reckless homicide. Louis was sentenced in 2006 to 20 years in prison.
The cause of injuries associated with shaken-baby syndrome has been disputed in recent years by medical and biomechanical experts. As a result, several high-profile shaken-baby cases in Wisconsin have been challenged in court.
In its written opinion, the appeals court also found the jury did not hear testimony that Madelyn might not have immediately showed symptoms of her injury and jurors were told inaccurate information about her spinal injury. The description of the injuries were key in the diagnosis of shaken-baby syndrome, the court wrote.
The appeals court also ruled that Louis' confession, which he claimed was coerced from him by police, is admissible at his new trial."
The story can be found at:
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:
Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog; email@example.com;