Monday, July 9, 2012

Pamela Jacobazzi: Illinois: How her appeal is highlighting a huge debate over the"triad" in shaken-baby syndrome cases: Daily Herald.

STORY: "Woman convicted of shaking baby has new hope," by reporter Josh Stockinger, published in the Daily Herald on July 9, 2012.

GIST: "Jacobazzi, 57, is eligible for parole in just three years — but she hopes to clear her name before then. That’s because the former Bartlett day care provider convicted of fatally shaking Matthew Czapski is getting a new evidentiary hearing, which could result in a new trial. She also has picked up backing from the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, which is calling on Gov. Pat Quinn to grant her clemency. For Jacobazzi, the situation could become something of a gamble: Should she go back to trial and be convicted again, she could be resentenced and receive an even longer prison stay. “I’m optimistic. I believe they’ll be getting me out of here,” she said. “I am innocent.” A jury convicted Jacobazzi in 1999 of shaking Matthew, then 10 months old, so violently that he went into a vegetative state and died more than a year later. The verdict came after a flurry of medical experts testified for the prosecution that the child had what they refer to as a “triad” of internal head injuries that could be attributed only to being shaken.........The appeal highlights a fierce debate roiling in the medical and legal communities about what’s commonly known as shaken baby syndrome. Science has long held that the triad — retinal bleeding, brain tissue swelling and subdural hematomas — are signs of violent shaking when present in a child without external injuries. But conflicting views are emerging, with some doctors saying those symptoms also result from naturally occurring illnesses, such as sickle cell anemia. DuPage County prosecutors maintain Jacobazzi shook Matthew to death and said they stand behind her conviction.........Deborah Tuerkheimer, a law professor at DePaul University in Chicago and a former child abuse prosecutor, has been researching scientific and legal developments surrounding the syndrome for about four years. She argues that mounting research has, in fact, “cast doubt” upon the forensic significance of the triad injuries, undermining thousands of convictions that hinged on them in absence of other evidence. “There has been a significant change in the way pediatricians and pathologists in particular talk about this diagnosis. There’s been a move away from the claims that the triad is ... exclusively diagnostic,” said Tuerkheimer, who’s written on the topic for The New York Times and the Washington University Law Review. There is no doubt in my mind that the movement exists and these cases are being treated differently than they were two, three years, even a year ago,” she said. “It’s just that the change is happening more slowly than I’d hoped and much more haphazardly. I’d like to see a systemic review of these cases where the triad was the basis for conviction.”"

The entire story can be found at:


I am monitoring this case. 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:

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:

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Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.