STORY: "Conviction overturned for Jacksonville baby sitter; new evidence shows toddler may have died from diabetic condition," by reporter Larry Hannon, published by The Florida Times-Union on October 21, 2106. Thanks to Mike Bowers of CSIDDS (Forensics in Focus) for drawing this story to our attention.
GIST: "A judge threw out the conviction and life sentence of a Mandarin baby sitter after new evidence suggesting that a 2-year-old St. Augustine child in her care was not beaten to death, but instead died from high blood sugar due to undiagnosed juvenile diabetes. This week Circuit Judge Angela Cox ordered a new trial for Syna Lim, 48, who was convicted in 2009 for the murder of Amara Ou. Lim will now get a new trial if outgoing State Attorney Angela Corey and State Attorney-elect Melissa Nelson choose to retry her. Prosecutors also could choose to drop the case and let Lim go free, or Cox’s ruling could be sent to the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee......... But a new trial could raise troubling questions about former Chief Medical Examiner Margarita Arruza, who conducted the original autopsy on Amara and did not find she was suffering from diabetes. Aruzza resigned several years later, and allegations have surfaced that she suffered from the early effects of Alzheimer’s disease while still serving as medical examiner. The toddler’s father left her in Lim’s care at the woman’s Jacksonville residence at 6305 Devonhurst Drive in 2006. Lim later told police the child wouldn’t wake up from a nap a few hours later, so for two hours she tried calling the mother before reaching the father. Doctors said the 2-year-old was brain dead upon arrival at the hospital and had bruises on her head and limbs. Lim told police she was doing laundry, and Amara must have fallen off the couch. Prosecutors charged Lim with first-degree murder and child abuse and said she hit Amara with the handle of a flyswatter and then delivered a crushing blow to the child’s skull. Chief Assistant Public Defender Refik Eler and Assistant Public Defender Michelle Barki did not dispute that Ou had died from blunt head force trauma at the original trial but contended it wasn’t Lim who did it. “Once blunt force trauma became accepted by all parties as the child’s cause of death, with no suggested alternate cause of death, the defendant was doomed,” wrote Lim’s current attorney, Samuel Jacobson, in court filings arguing that she deserved a new trial. Eler has been found to be ineffective in criminal cases four times in recent years, but Cox did not find him deficient in this case.
Lim was convicted and Circuit Judge Mallory Cooper sentenced her to life in prison for the murder and an additional 30 years for child abuse. But according to court records, years after the conviction an Orlando pathologist and a Jacksonville pediatrician re-examined the case and determined that Amara did not die from blunt force trauma at all. They testified that Amara had been suffering from diabetes and a condition called “disseminated intravascular coagulation,” or DIC, that produces uncontrolled internal bleeding. “Uncontrolled bleeding from DIC, the physicians testified, likely caused the bruising and other discolorations on or about the child which were interpreted by the treating personnel as indications of trauma,” Jacobson said in court filings. In other words, the medical evidence suggests Amara may have died from internal bleeding and was never the victim of blunt force trauma, Jacobson said. He said their motions to dismiss did not involve the competence of Aruzza since the focus of their argument was that this was new evidence that justified a new trial.
“Mrs. Lim’s new evidence is her most important evidence,” Jacobson said. “With it her innocence is realistically demonstrable.” But if prosecutors choose to go back to court, Jacobson said he intended to challenge the original autopsy and raise the issue of Aruzza’s competence. The Orlando pathologist questioned the competence and soundness of mind of the person who did the original autopsy, Jacobson said."
The entire story can be found at:
See CSIDDS (Forensics in Focus) post - 'medical examiner health issues in play after vacated SBS conviction - at the link below: "This story from FLA reveals many issues involving the fact that forensic autopsy’s are prone to mistakes and omissions. “New evidence” includes an ME’s health history, resignation, and a dead child’s disease-borne cause-of-death versus abuse by the convicted nanny. Plus, the political issues are massive considering the lame-duck Floridian Attorney General Angela Corey being involved in retrying the defendant. She has received considerable bad press and got ousted from office this month. Here is something about people “dancing in the streets” over that."
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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: http://www.thestar.com/topic/
Harold Levy. Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.