Sunday, February 2, 2014

Kristian Aspelin: San Francisco: Family's ordeal raises questions in shaken baby cases. (A "Must Read" by reporter Linda Yee. HL); KPIX 5;

STORY: "Bay area family's ordeal raises questions over shaken baby convictions," by reporter Linda Yee. published by KPIX 5 on January 31, 2014.

GIST:  "Every year, it is estimated that 200 people are convicted of shaking babies to death. Doctors have said violent shaking causes babies’ brains to swell and bleed, but now that science looks shaky. KPIX 5 talks to a Bay Area father who was wrongly accused......... Aspelin’s attorney Stuart Hanlon found a growing number of doctors who warn that there could be other reasons than just shaking a baby that can cause brain injuries. “No one says it’s okay to shake your baby,” Hanlon says, “but the question is, could shaking a child cause the type of head injuries that killed him?” It is a debate that divides the doctors who testify in these shaken baby cases. Pediatricians who see victims of child abuse argue brain bleeding from just a fall is rare, and most likely from abuse. Clinical forensic medical specialist Dr. Steven Gabaeff of Carmichael disagrees. “The position that shaking can cause these kinds of bleeds have never been substantiated,” Gabaeff argues. Gabaeff said it is abusive to shake a baby, and it does cause some injury. But shaking alone, he believes, is not enough to cause the bleeding and the brain swelling. He says there are many other causes. “These things are nonspecific findings that can occur in impact injuries, birth trauma and other complications.” Dr. Gabaeff said “A number of medical problems that can result increased intra-cranial pressure and bleeding around the brain.” San Francisco prosecutors agreed the evidence of shaken baby syndrome in the Aspelin case was murky, and dropped the murder charges against him......... It is estimated there are about 200 shaking baby convictions a year. The Northern California Innocence Project at Santa Clara University is re-examining some cases helping people who may have been wrongly convicted.
“The danger is people have been convicted on faulty science,” said attorney Paige Kaneb. “It’s science that we now know is wrong. And so how do we deal with that? How many people are in prison based on an incorrect hypothesis that was never proven?” Kaneb said there have been about a dozen convictions nationwide that have been reversed."

The entire story can be found at:

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