Clemency Consideration in California May Shed Light on Shaken Baby Case

Shirley Ree Smith, 51, spent 10 years in a California prison after being convicted in the alleged shaken baby death of her infant grandson 15 years ago until the U.S. 9th Circuit Court  of Appeals reversed her conviction in 2006 based on a lack of “demonstrable support” of the prosecution’s theory. The U.S. Supreme Court urged the 9th Circuit to reconsider and has ordered the lower court to reinstate the conviction, but the ruling also noted that clemency—now being considered by Gov. Jerry Brown—might be appropriate for Smith, due in part to lingering doubts about her guilt.

The L.A. Times reports  here that Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley has called upon three experts to review the autopsy reports, evidence and testimony from the 1977 trial. This is an appropriate response and effort to provide a second look at this controversial case.

If Smith loses this consideration, she could be returned to prison for the remainder of her 15-years-to-life-sentence.

The scientific evidence and testimony utilized in shaken baby cases has been a subject of debate and reconsideration. This review may shed light on this case and others like it.

2 responses to “Clemency Consideration in California May Shed Light on Shaken Baby Case

  1. Heard about this case on NPR (“New Evidence in High-Profile Shaken-Baby Case”); couldn’t believe that lack of any evidence of shaking constituted evidence of severe shaking! Whoever came up with that doublethink?!

  2. I heard about this case on NPR (“New Evidence in High-Profile Shaken-Baby Case”); couldn’t believe that lack of evidence of shaking was taken as evidence of severe shaking–who came up with that catch 22?

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