The Arizona Superior Court dismissed charges today against Drayton Witt, convicted in 2002 of second-degree murder in the death of his son Steven, the Arizona Justice Project has announced.
As reported in the Arizona Republic in September, Steven Witt suffered a short lifetime of health challenges, starting with breathing problems at birth and including unexplained seizures that had him hospitalized for a week when he was four months old. At five months, he suffered another seizure while in the care of his father and collapsed.
Despite Steven’s health history, doctors at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital insisted that bleeding and swelling found in the boy’s brain meant he’d been abused, and Drayton Witt was convicted of second-degree murder. The Arizona Justice Project took up his case in 2008, under the leadership of attorney Carrie Sperling.
In the spring of 2012, Witt’s legal team petitioned successfully to vacate his conviction. The state did not oppose that decision, but began moving to retry the case. Then last week the district attorney’s office filed a motion to dismiss the charges without prejudice. This morning the court approved that motion, but specified that the dismissal was “with prejudice,” meaning that the state is barred from pressing this case again.
I wrote a bit more about this case earlier in the year, in this post.