GIST: "Fifteen years ago, Dr. Steven Hayne told jurors Jeffrey Havard had shaken a 6-month-old baby to death, comparing the injuries to those seen in falls from significant heights. On Monday, he backed off that conclusion, testifying that “tremendous G forces can be generated in a short fall. If it’s straight to the head, then it could cause serious injury.” The 38-year-old Havard, now on Mississippi’s death row, insists he accidentally dropped the baby, Chloe Madison Britt, and that she hit her head on a toilet. Since 2000, at least 11 Mississippians have been convicted in cases involving the shaken baby syndrome, with two of them sitting on death row. Havard is one of them. The state Supreme Court has ordered the hearing for Havard to decide if he deserves a new trial because of shifting scientific beliefs on the syndrome. In Havard’s 2002 trial, all the doctors concluded that Chloe died of the syndrome, and so did Hayne, who performed the autopsy. He said the death would be “consistent with a person … violently shaking a child back and forth to produce the injuries … The type of injuries that you can see that parallel these are in motor vehicle crashes, falls from significant heights and the like.” In court Monday, Hayne testified that a short fall can cause serious injury. He said that the term he would use now would be “abusive head trauma” to describe the injuries to Chloe, which he said included bruises on the forehead, scalp, back of head and mouth as well as bleeding between the skull and brain. He said he still believed her death was a homicide. For decades, physicians believed that a triad of symptoms provided ironclad proof that someone had shaken a child to death, known as shaken baby syndrome. But new studies have raised questions about the syndrome. In 2009, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended the diagnosis of the syndrome be discarded and replaced with "abusive head trauma.” Renowned pathologist Dr. Michael Baden of New York testified Monday that the problem with the “abusive head trauma” conclusion is that it’s impossible to tell whether a person accidentally fell down the stairs or someone pushed that person. He said he absolutely disagreed with a prosecution expert who testified at the 2002 trial, claiming that Chloe's retinal hemorrhages proved that this baby had been shaken. “It’s my opinion that shaking had nothing to do with the death,” he said. “It’s my opinion that all of the injuries are consistent with blunt force impact.” The baby’s injuries are consistent with the fall that Havard described, Baden said. “With short falls, you can have fatal injuries.” When doctors overstate the case, such as with the shaken baby syndrome, “innocent people can get convicted,” he said. Under cross-examination, he said he was charging $21,000 for his fees and travel. He said he had not been paid for any of his work on the case over the past five years. In 2002, the Adams County jury convicted Havard, concluding that he was guilty of killing and sexually abusing Chloe, and sentenced him to death. The hearing is expected to continue this week, and Circuit Judge Forrest Johnson said he won’t rule until after he receives legal briefs from attorneys. He barred testimony on possible sexual assault, saying the state Supreme Court decision centered strictly on the shaken baby syndrome. “I have no jurisdiction to go there,” he said. In 2014, Hayne told The Clarion-Ledger, “I didn't think there was a sexual assault. I didn't see any evidence of sexual assault.” During Havard's capital murder trial, doctors, nurses, the sheriff and others told jurors about tears, rips, lacerations and bleeding they saw in the child's anal area. "Maybe they were looking at folds and thought they were tears," Hayne told the newspaper. "We were very careful, and we also took sections." A rape kit found no semen or foreign DNA, and he examined those sections under a microscope. His conclusion? They were no tears, rips or similar injuries to the child's rectum, he told the newspaper. "I would think that would be a definitive evaluation."

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