Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Bulletin: Autopsy notes in baby’s death raise questions about DA’s role; Medical examiner says he was bullied

STORY: "Autopsy notes in baby’s death raise questions about DA’s role;  Medical examiner says he was bullied," by Yvonne Abraham, published by the Boston Globe on October 13, 2015.

PHOTO CAPTION:  "A former medical examiner, in notes left in the case file of a 6-month-old, said Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan bullied him."

GIST: "The medical examiner who reversed a homicide finding in the death of a 6-month-old Malden baby maintains in case notes that Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and her office “bullied” him to stick with the original homicide ruling, even though new evidence made that conclusion not “honest.” Initially, forensic pathologist Peter Cummings ruled that the 2010 death of the baby, Nathan Wilson, was a homicide, the result of abusive head trauma, or shaken baby syndrome. His father, Geoffrey Wilson, was charged by Ryan’s office with the baby’s murder. But experts hired by his defense counsel found a rare genetic defect that made members of the Wilson family prone to ruptures of veins and arteries, providing an alternative explanation of the baby’s death. Cummings decided to file an amended death certificate changing the cause of death from “homicide” to “could not be determined.” In supplemental case notes, handwritten by Cummings and placed in the baby’s closed case file the day before the murder charges were dropped, Cummings said that the DA and her staff had not wanted him to change his finding. He called the way they dealt with his office on the case “unethical and unprofessional.” He accused them of “M.E. shopping” in the hopes of getting a different opinion. “I told them I felt bullied and at times as though I was being forced to sign the case out in a way I did not think was honest,” Cummings wrote in the case notes, obtained by the Globe...

The Wilsons declined to comment, but their attorney said they are troubled by the allegations contained in Cummings’s notes...In a second, strikingly similar case involving a baby’s death, concerns about possible interference arose again.
Attorneys for Aisling Brady McCarthy were sufficiently worried about Ryan trying to influence the medical examiner that they asked a judge to order the Middlesex district attorney and her office to refrain from contacting the examiner in the case of Rehma Sabir. McCarthy, Sabir’s nanny, was initially charged with murdering the 1-year-old in January 2013 after the medical examiner found that Sabir had died from abusive head trauma. McCarthy’s attorneys maintained their client’s innocence, citing the baby’s complicated medical history and findings that the baby had suffered bone injuries weeks earlier, when she was out of the country and away from McCarthy. The medical examiner’s office launched a review of the case in April. Melinda Thompson, one of McCarthy’s attorneys, said she was not confident the review would be truly independent unless the judge required the Middlesex DA to stay away from the medical examiner. The judge granted her request. “I felt the interactions [so far] were inappropriate,” Thompson said, citing e-mails showing heavy involvement by the entire prosecution team with the medical examiner. “We believed the review, on behalf of Aisling, the child’s family, and the Commonwealth, should be independent, without interference from the Middlesex district attorney’s office.” On Aug. 31, the medical examiner revised Rehma Sabir’s cause of death to “undetermined,” like Nathan Wilson’s. The district attorney dropped the charges that same day."

The entire story can be found at: