Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bulletin: Jennifer Del Prete: Major development; Federal judge rules that "no reasonable jury" would find the Chicago-area daycare worker guilty of murder in shaken-baby syndrome case citing scientific evidence; Medill Justice Project;

POST: "Federal judge rules no reasonable jury would find daycare worker guilty: Del Prete awaits Chicago hearing in her shaken-baby syndrome case," by Lauryn Schroeder, published by the Medill Justice Project on January 27, 2014.

PHOTO-CAPTION:  U.S. District Court Judge Matthew F. Kennelly ruled no reasonable jury would find Jennifer Del Prete guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

GIST: "A federal judge ruled today “no reasonable jury” would find Jennifer Del Prete, a Chicago-area daycare worker, guilty of murder, citing new evidence and medical science that cast doubt on whether she was given her constitutional right to a fair trial. In his detailed and strongly worded 97-page opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew F. Kennelly said it was the court’s responsibility to determine whether a reasonable juror, who heard all of the evidence, would find Del Prete guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. “The answer to that question is a rather resounding no,” Kennelly wrote.........Today’s decision appears to be a significant step in Del Prete’s case and allows the court to fully reexamine her claims of ineffective counsel in her original trial. In his ruling, the judge cited, among other things, the child’s symptoms of chronic brain bleeding and the possibility the infant had experienced a lucid interval before becoming unresponsive, which would have made it difficult to pinpoint the timing of an injury specifically enough to identify a perpetrator......... Among the new evidence Kennelly cited in today’s ruling, he included a decade-old letter written by a police detective in Del Prete’s case discovered by The Medill Justice Project through a Freedom of Information Act request. In the 2003 letter, Police Commander Kenneth Kroll said the forensic pathologist who conducted the infant’s autopsy questioned whether the day care worker had violently shaken the child in what is known as shaken-baby syndrome or abusive head trauma. Defense attorneys learned of the letter when it was published as part of a Medill Justice Project investigation. Kennelly also referred to the prosecution’s reliance on the expert testimony of one doctor in the original trial in state court. In the federal court hearings, he noted, experts for both sides rejected several aspects of that testimony and undercut the doctor’s conclusion that the infant’s injuries would have been immediate and, thus, the last caregiver with the child, Del Prete, was responsible. Attorneys will argue whether an evidentiary hearing is needed to consider claim of ineffective counsel at a status hearing scheduled for Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. in downtown Chicago. The judge could not be reached for comment; it is not known when he will make a decision, but he could order Del Prete’s release if he finds she did not receive a fair trial and the state chooses not to retry her."

The entire post can be found at:


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