Monday, December 15, 2014

Leevester Brown; State Supreme Court orders new trial for Mississippi man convicted by testimony citing now-disputed Shaken Baby Syndrome. Clarion-Ledger story by reporter Jerry Mitchell also refers to Death Row inmate Jeffrey Havard and pathologist Dr. Steven Hayne. (Must Read. HL);

STORY: "High court tosses 'shaken baby' conviction," by reporter Jerry Mitchell, published by the Clarion-Ledger on December 15, 2014.

GIST: "The state Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for a Mississippi man convicted by testimony citing the now-disputed Shaken Baby Syndrome. Justices concluded the trial judge wrongly denied LeeVester Brown’s request for the funds to hire an expert to review the autopsy conducted by Dr. Steven Hayne, who concluded the child’s death was a homicide consistent with the syndrome. Brown is now serving a life without parole sentence. It’s the second case the high court has tossed in recent months involving the Shaken Baby Syndrome. Since 2000, at least 11 Mississippians have been convicted in such cases with two of them sitting on death row. One of them is Jeffrey Havard, who was convicted in 2002 after Hayne told jurors the death of 6-month-old Chloe Britt was a homicide and that her injuries were consistent with her being shaken to death — a claim he now doubts. “This case does fundamentally recognize if you don’t have an expert, your hands are tied,” said Havard’s lawyer, Graham Carner of Jackson. “The science has changed.” For decades, Shaken Baby Syndrome was widely accepted, diagnosed through a triad of symptoms: subdural bleeding (blood collecting between the brain and the skull), retinal bleeding (bleeding in the back of the eye) and brain swelling. In the years since, medical belief that these symptoms provided proof of homicide has begun to crumble with several studies raising doubts. In 2009, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended the syndrome diagnosis be discarded. Hayne told The Clarion-Ledger earlier this year that there was “growing evidence” his shaken baby diagnosis in the Havard case was “probably not correct” because shaking alone isn’t able to generate enough force to cause such injuries. Like Brown, Havard sought funds for an expert in his case. “This case is a trend nationwide and in Mississippi with Shaken Baby Syndrome being placed under the microscope,” Carner said. “The question is how do you handle forensic science in shaken baby cases?” Last week, the state Supreme Court threw out Brown’s 2006 conviction in Coahoma County because the judge failed to provide him funds to hire an expert. Lawyers for the state of Mississippi had argued Brown was too late to challenge the Shaken Baby Syndrome because he failed to bring it up at trial. Justices disagreed, saying Brown “is arguing that the Shaken Baby Syndrome theory is invalid, and he argues he simply had no way to challenge that theory without his own expert.”"

The entire story can be found at:


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