STORY: "Trial outcome hangs on medical balance," by reporter John Breslin published by the Irish Times on May 9, 2015.
SUB-HEADING: "After two years in jail, the Irish nanny charged with first degree murder of a child has been released on bail. John Breslin analyses what this means.
GIST: "Aisling Brady McCarthy is charged with first degree murder, intentionally and brutally shaking a one year old baby so hard that it led directly to her death. Ms Brady McCarthy has spent the last more than two years in jail near Boston, Massachusetts, on a bail bond she and her family could not afford. This week she was released, on lower bail and with conditions What is going on?.........Some violent incident took place in that bedroom that January day, it is alleged. Rehma was fatally injured. And the nanny was the only possible suspect, police, and then prosecutors, concluded. Within days, Ms Brady McCarthy, now 36, from Lavey, Co Cavan, was charged with battery to a child. Weeks later, after a grand jury deliberated, it concluded she should be tried for murder. Grand juries in the United States almost universally side with prosecutors. There is no defence called before such a jury, only the prosecution, no presumption of innocence, only that the defendant has a case to face. They heard evidence from Dr Alice Newton, who first diagnosed Rehma as the victim of abuse, that she died from brain trauma as a result of being shaken violently. This was at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH). The Massachusetts Chief Medical Examiner’s office conducted an autopsy and ruled “the cause of death is blunt force head injuries, and the manner of death is homicide and not accidental”. This according to the state’s district attorney. Ms Brady McCarthy, undocumented or an illegal immigrant as it quickly emerged, was charged with first-degree murder in April 2013, that with intent she deliberately murdered Rehma.......... But she has defence lawyers, a couple of the best in Boston. By chance, someone knew someone who knew Melinda Thompson, a former prosecutor now working for one of the top law firms in Boston. The Irishwoman was not going to be represented by an overworked public defender with a pile of files and little time to study them. Immediately, Thompson went on the offensive, declaring her client was innocent and, over the following months, now years, went to work on the medical evidence. She has questioned even the validity of shaken baby syndrome, the credentials of Dr Newton, and the overall health of the child. Rehma Sabir was a sick child. She suffered from malnutrition. She had injuries to her back and other parts of her body not connected to the day she was fatally injured. These injuries were caused weeks before that tragic day. It is known Ms Brady McCarthy had no part in causing these injuries as the child was in the sole custody of her parents. In filings to Middlesex Superior Court, the defence has laid out the arguments it will make before a jury. “Despite the child’s extensive history of medical problems, and despite the lack of any outward evidence that she had been abused, within a few hours of [Sabir’s] arrival at BCH, ‘child protection team’ personnel suspected abuse,” lawyers Thompson and David Meier wrote. “McCarthy was interrogated by police within an hour of Dr Newton’s diagnosis. McCarthy was interrogated again the next night, and the second interrogation was video and audio recorded. There are no other recorded statements of any witnesses in the case.” In a separate filing, they added: “It would be wrong ... to allow experts to come to trial and guess, or speculate, or argue about [shaken baby syndrome] when it is not yet a scientifically validated entity.”.........Ms Brady McCarthy’s trial was due to start this week. Some three days were set aside for jury selection, with the trial expected to last three to four weeks. Instead, the trial was delayed as the medical examiner’s office carries out a review of nine reports submitted by the defence. Ms Brady McCarthy was released on $15,000 bail, paying 10% of that amount in cash. She is confined to home and has an electronic bracelet attached to her ankle..........So she is now due to go on trial in July, if she goes on trial at all. The defence has asked a number of times that the case be dismissed, that there is no case to answer and certainly this is not a first degree murder. Now it is up to the medical examiner’s office. It is reviewing the reports and will come back in about four weeks with its conclusions. The prosecutors remain bullish that there is ample evidence to back up their claims. But already, and repeatedly, the defence has asked: is there reasonable doubt?"
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