While Governor Jerry Brown considers the clemency request for Shirley Smith, two new physicians have registered conflicting opinions about the cause of her grandson’s death, after Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley requested a review of the evidence.
The article in the Los Angeles Times about the new developments, by reporter Carol J. Williams, includes this fascinating paragraph:
In a letter to the governor that Cooley’s office made available, the district attorney said he was mindful of Smith’s lack of criminal history, age and good behavior in prison, indicating that he wasn’t opposed to clemency on “equitable grounds.” But he cautioned Brown against rejecting “the well-documented and widely accepted medical diagnosis, AHT,” saying that would undermine public confidence in diagnoses of child abuse.
I might be starting to understand why the district attorney won’t just admit that the medical facts don’t support a diagnosis of shaking in Smith’s case: If he concedes that she might be innocent, her trial demonstrates how easy it is for a jury to convict on the basis of sincere but unproven medical opinion.
Williams also posted a blog on the subject at http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-shaken-baby-evidence-20120330,0,6785859.story
Meanwhile, the Huffington Post has published a poignant update on a tragic case of mistaken child-abuse diagnosis: Much too late for the parents, victims of an apparent murder-suicide, doctors now acknowledge that the couple’s 3-month-old daughter was suffering from a debilitating genetic disorder.