Today, Debra Milke, exonerated after 22 years on Arizona’s death row for the murder of her 4 year old son, appeared and spoke at a press event.
See her very eloquent press conference statements here. And see the remarks from her attorney, Lori Voepel, here.
A disputed diagnosis imprisons parents
Debbie Cenziper of the Washington Post, after a year-long investigation in conjunction with the Medill Justice Project, has written an article addressing the controversy surrounding the diagnosis of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS).
This is the most comprehensive general publication article on the subject I have seen, and she interviewed people on both sides of the issue. I have extracted some selected quotes:
Dr. Patrick Lantz: “If doctors see retinal hemorrhages, they say it’s abuse, but it’s as scientific as a fortuneteller reading tea leaves.”
Dr. George Nichols: “Shaken Baby Syndrome is a belief system rather than an exercise in modern-day science.” “My greatest worry is that I have deprived someone of justice because I have been overtly biased or just mistaken.”
Dr. Jonathon Arden: “A lot of people in this field, especially many of the pediatricians, make statements that are absolute and dogmatic and do not allow for the exceptions that we know exist. Do you want to be involved in somebody’s wrongful conviction because you had this dogmatic approach that it must be trauma, it must be shaking?”
Dr. Patrick Barnes: “All of the treating physicians simply assumed trauma and stopped looking for alternative explanations. That is not sound science and cannot be the basis of a reliable prosecution.”
Dr. Jan Leestma: “The original papers that espoused Shaken Baby were basically opinion papers with essentially no science applied to them.”
Dr. Norman Guthkelch: “I am doing what I can so long as I have a breath to correct a grossly unjust situation. I think they’ve gone much too far.”
See the Washington Post article here.
Today, the Arizona Supreme Court refused to grant the prosecution a retrial for Debra Milke. Milke’s conviction had been overturned by the US 9th Circuit for prosecutorial misconduct, and sent back to the Arizona courts. See the AZ Central story here.
We’ve covered this case extensively. See here, here, here, and here.
And …….. Debra Milke has filed suit against Maricopa County, AZ, the prosecutor (Bill Montgomery), the detective (Armando Saldate), and twelve other officials. See the Courthouse News Service article here.
All I can say is …. YOU GO, GIRL!
Christopher Abernathy, 48, was released from prison on Wednesday after Cook County (IL) Judge Frank Zelezinski vacated his 1987 conviction for a rape and murder Cook County (IL) officials now acknowledge he did not commit. Abernathy had served nearly 30 years of a life sentence for the crime.
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s Conviction Integrity Unit reviewed DNA evidence from the crime, presented by Abernathy’s attorneys, which Continue reading
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- With a judge’s order throwing out his murder conviction in-hand, Tyrone Hood truly became a free man as he was exonerated at a Monday morning hearing after spending more than 20 years in prison for a slaying he’s continued to insist he did not commit.
“I can’t even describe how I feel right now,” he said. Nearly a month ago, outgoing Gov. Pat Quinn commuted Hood’s sentence, releasing him from prison. The decision by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to dismiss the convictions against Hood and his co-defendant Wayne Washington, Jr. follows more than two years of investigation by her office’s conviction integrity unit – which began looking into the case in 2012 after the University of Chicago’s Exoneration Project championed Hood’s innocence. Keep reading…..
- New legislation in Texas aimed at expanding access for inmates to post-conviction DNA testing