‘Wrongfully convicted’ tells important story
Kudos to reporter David Alexander for his thoughtful treatment of a difficult but important story (“Wrongfully Convicted,” Feb. 3, 2013 about Mary Weaver’s exoneration on charges of shaking an infant to death).
Ms. Weaver was convicted during the first wave of shaking accusations against infant-care providers, most famously Louise Woodward, the “Boston nanny” whose case was in the headlines for two years in the late 1990s. Had anyone been paying attention at the time, the story of Melissa Mathes could have prevented decades of false convictions.
Difficult as it is to believe if you haven’t seen it first hand, child-abuse professionals working with a widely accepted but flawed model of shaken baby syndrome have been targeting innocent parents and care providers: They learned in medical school that the pattern of bleeding and swelling found in Melissa’s brain can result only from abuse, and that the symptoms will be immediately obvious. Doctors outside the child-abuse arena, however, now recognize a long and growing list of legitimate medical conditions that can cause the pattern – including accidental injury – and accumulated experience has demonstrated that the symptoms can emerge slowly over time. Melissa’s story illustrates both of those points. I’m so glad that Ms. Weaver’s conviction was overturned quickly.
Innocence Projects in Illinois are now reopening the convictions of care providers Pamela Jacobowski (articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-07-08/news/ct-met-shaken-baby-20120709_1_baby-syndrome-anthony-sassan-day-care-owner) and Jennifer Del Prete (www.medilljusticeproject.org/2013/03/14/medical-experts-offer-new-theories-about-an-infants-cause-of-death/). I am hoping that someone in Iowa will look into the case of convicted father Justin Curtis (onsbs.com/2013/03/09/fathers-caught-in-the-jaws-of-justice/).
Thank you for covering this important, breaking story, which must have seemed at first glance like old news.