Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pamela Jacobazzi: Spotlight on Shaken-Baby Syndrome. Medill Innocence Project analyzes the medical advances that challenge her 18-year-old murder conviction.. Must read. HL.

STORY: "Medill Innocence Project probes 18-year-old child-abuse case, examining medical advances that challenge Chicago-area day care owner's murder conviction,"  published on December 11, 2102.

SUB-HEADING:  In the project's first published shaken-baby syndrome investigation, Medill students unearth old records, sources that shed light on the circumstances of an infant's death.

GIST:  'For this article, the Medill Innocence Project consulted with numerous medical experts and studies conducted over the past several years, interviewed Jacobazzi family members, neighbors and former clients, submitted five Freedom of Information Act requests and obtained thousands of pages of court records, police reports as well as hospital, pediatric, medical examiner, children and family services and property documents. The Medill Innocence Project found that:–Eye injuries that used to be considered proof of child abuse at the time of Jacobazzi’s trial are known today to result from accidental trauma and certain medical conditions. The ophthalmologist who diagnosed Matthew in 1994 with “shaken injury” is one of several experts interviewed who now acknowledge that such symptoms may arise from non-abusive causes. –Research into the onset of symptoms after brain trauma has raised doubts about how accurately doctors can pinpoint when trauma was inflicted. Recent studies have shown infants can experience a lucid interval–a temporary period of well-being–after suffering a fatal head injury. Experts say Matthew may have developed slow bleeding in his brain that did not become apparent until hours or days later when he lost consciousness and was rushed to the hospital. As a result, experts interviewed for this article say they cannot pinpoint Matthew’s trauma to the time he was under Jacobazzi’s care. –Biomechanical studies have called into question whether it is physically possible for a person to shake an infant to death. Experts say it was not possible for Jacobazzi, at 115 pounds, to physically shake Matthew, who was 21 pounds, to death, especially given that his neck and spine were undamaged. –Some experts question how Jacobazzi could have been convicted, given what they view as the uncertainty of Matthew’s condition. Experts say the child’s pediatric records, which were only mentioned in passing at Jacobazzi’s trial, indicated he appeared to have suffered from internal bleeding, while CT scans and a slide of brain tissue may have revealed a slow bleed from an old head injury that remained undetected until he was rushed to the hospital on the day he was under Jacobazzi’s care.
The majority of experts interviewed agree that Matthew’s death was the result of some kind of trauma but they disagree about what caused that trauma, when the trauma occurred and to what degree preexisting medical conditions contributed to his death. “This lady is probably sitting in jail for no reason,” said Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan, an associate professor of pathology at the University of Tennessee Medical Center and the medical examiner for Knox and Anderson Counties in Tennessee who reviewed Matthew’s medical records at the request of the Medill Innocence Project. “Why anyone focused on the babysitter, I don’t understand.”"

The entire story can be found at:

See related UPI story: (Activists doubt guilt in Shaken-Baby case).

See Daily Herald story: (Bartlett woman's shaken baby conviction further  challenged)


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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:

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Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.