Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bulletin: Shelley Richter: Missouri; ("Shaken baby syndrome" case): Jury acquits her on more serious charge of felony child abuse - finds her guilty of endangering a child's welfare; News Tribune;

STORY: "Babysitter guilty of endangering  child's welfare; Babysitter accused of shaking 7 month-old in her care in 2010," by reporter Bob Watson, published in the News Tribune on March 13, 2013.

GIST: "Shelley Richter is guilty of endangering the welfare of a child, a Cole County jury ruled late this afternoon. But that jury said she was not guilty of the more serious charge, felony child abuse. Both charges were filed in 2010, after Lane Schaefer, then 7 months-old, was injured while attending Richter’s in-home day care in Taos. All testimony showed he was a healthy baby before Richter said she dropped the boy while falling, after tripping over a toddler who had walked behind her. Now 3, Lane’s parents testified he needs therapy almost daily, has life-long brain damage and will be blind for the rest of his life. The six-man, six-woman jury deliberated just over 5 1/2-hours before reaching their verdict. Cole County Presiding Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce gave lawyers 25 days to file a motion for a new trial."

FROM EARLIER COVERAGE:   “At the end of the day there’s somewhat complicated medical testimony,” Assistant Prosecutor Cheryl Nield reminded the jury in her final, closing argument. “(But the doctors’) conclusion was consistent that Lane Schaefer was injured by shaking — a non-accidental event.” But that’s not true, said Shane Farrow, Richter’s attorney. “There are inconsistencies amongst these experts who are saying, ‘You can rely on us,’” Farrow reminded the jury. “All said dropping (a child) wouldn’t cause these injuries (but our expert) Dr. Plunkett said these injuries are consistent with being dropped from a short distance.” Farrow agreed Lane Schaefer, now 3, suffered serious, disabling injuries on Aug. 19, 2010, while he was in Richter’s care at her in-home day care in Taos. “This is a tragic case,” he acknowledged, “but that doesn’t mean Shelly Richter knowingly shook Lane Schaefer or knowingly hit his head (on something).” Farrow presented only three witnesses during this morning’s testimony: Richter; Dawn Wilde, a neighbor and former Highway Patrol trooper whom Richter called first, when she realized the boy — then 7 months old — was seriously hurt after she dropped him while falling; and Dr. John Plunkett, a retired Minnesota medical examiner. Plunkett reviewed all of Schaefer’s medical records and the sheriff’s department’s probable cause statement filed with the initial charges, and told the jury this morning that the Missouri doctors were wrong when they concluded Lane’s serious brain injuries were caused by his being shaken. “If you fall and you hit your head, the likelihood of serious injury is pretty high,” Plunkett testified. A Cole County grand jury indicted Richter, now 42, in September 2010 for child abuse, a Class B felony, and endangering the welfare of a child, a Class C felony. Conviction of the abuse charge could result in a prison sentence of five-15 years. Conviction of the “endangering” charge could result in a prison sentence of up to seven years."

The entire story can be found at:


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