Sunday, February 17, 2013

Jennifer Del Prete: Illinois; (Shaken-baby syndrome case): Federal judge opens infants records (brain scans) after six-month battle by Medill Justice Project to access them.

STORY:  "Federal judge opens infant's records in response to Medill Justice Project: Students seeking medical documents in shaken-baby syndrome case investigation.

PHOTO CAPTION:  The Medill Justice Project is investigating the 2005 murder conviction of Jennifer Del Prete. She maintains her innocence.

GIST: The Medill Justice Project has won a six-month battle for records in federal court after a judge granted access to brain scans of an infant whose death the organization is investigating as part of a former Chicago-area day care worker’s first-degree murder conviction. Since last March, Medill undergraduate students in a class supported by The Medill Justice Project have been probing a 2002 case in which Jennifer Del Prete in Romeoville, Ill., was accused of violently shaking a  ½-month-old infant, causing fatal head injuries in what is known as shaken-baby syndrome.  Del Prete, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2005, maintains her innocence. Given advances in medicine and science over the past decade, the detailed medical images, including MRIs and CT scans, may provide new insight into how the infant died. “This is a victory for open government,” said Alec Klein, director of The Medill Justice Project, an organization at Northwestern University which examines potentially wrongful murder convictions. “The medical records will hopefully shed light on this tragic case.”.........Pat Blegen, one of Del Prete’s attorneys, argued in court last month that Del Prete can’t be tied to the infant’s death in part because the infant had been experiencing a chronic brain bleed, which caused a cascade of other head trauma, which likely started before she started caring for the infant. The ER physician and defense expert at trial in 2005 identified the chronic bleeding, but got the timing wrong, Blegen said at the December hearing. Ari Telisman, one of the assistant attorney generals defending Del Prete’s conviction, said in court that the infant’s brain bleeding was benign and not the cause of her death. Del Prete was, he said. “She never smiled again,” Telisman said about the infant. Since Del Prete’s conviction eight years ago, many experts have called into question whether the triad of shaken-baby syndrome symptoms—bleeding within the eyes, brain bleeding and brain swelling—can solely identify the cause of an infant’s injuries or death. The infant in Del Prete’s case showed no overt signs of abuse, such as bruising or injuries to the neck, and several experts recently testified she was suffering from serious brain conditions before losing consciousness under Del Prete’s supervision."

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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.  

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