The retrial of convicted father Adrian Thomas produced a not guilty verdict today, a decision reached by jurors who did not learn about the 9-hour interrogation examined in the award-winning 2012 film Scenes of a Crime or hear testimony from the detectives who conducted it. Thomas’s initial conviction in 2010 for the presumed shaking death of his 4-month-old son was overturned in February, when an appeals court determined that the interrogators’ heavy-handed tactics made the resulting confession inadmissible.
At both trials, defense experts argued that Matthew had died of sepsis, a full-body infection that leads to rapid collapse through tissue failure. The sepsis diagnosis was confirmed by blood tests ordered by forensic pathologist Jan Leestma, hired by the defense team. The state pathologist had not mentioned the sepsis in his autopsy report, although he did not deny it after Leestma brought it to his attention.
Matthew had no bruising, no red marks, and no fractures. His first blood test when he was rushed the hospital had came back positive for streptococcus pneumoniae. He had also arrived at the hospital with a temperature of 97.2 F, which dropped 3 degrees over the next half hour. His mother had reported a fever of 100.4 F the previous day, a figure that was dismissed as “not high” by prosecution expert Dr. Carole Jenny, who insisted that the sepsis infection was secondary to inflicted head trauma.
Coverage by reporter Bob Gardner at the Times Union offered this quote from the prosecution after the verdict:
“After the Court of Appeals threw out the his statements of guilt, we did the best we could with what we had left,” said Assistant District Attorney Christa Book. “I’m sorry that I could not bring Matthew justice.”
For a summary of the interrogation and a review of the film, please see this blog posting.
For the opinion vacating Thomas’s initial conviction, follow this link.
4 responses to “Jury Finds Adrian Thomas Not Guilty”
I read all 19 pages of the appeals opinion. It is very clear that this man was coerced into confessing to something he did not do. He had six other children at home. The policemen told him that if he didn’t confess, they would arrest his wife, leaving all the other children without their mother. They assured him that they would NOT arrest him. They said that if he didn’t tell them what really happened, the doctors might not be able to save his son. He said that he would “take the fall” for his wife. WHAT KIND OF CONFESSION IS THAT? He also said that his wife loved his kids and did not shake their son. And the other six kids were not abused. This man has been in prison now for 5 years? For something HE DID NOT DO!
SBS in the mainstream is myth, NOT fact.
In the past I have been hesitant to put this question out there for fear of sounding naïve, but this is as good a place as any to get it out. Why is the line between strategy and misconduct so fuzzy? The argument, “If he’s telling the truth it shouldn’t matter” is void of the particulars to each case. Whether it is utter exhaustion from a 9+hour interrogation or, in our case having autopsy photos shown to witnesses who were told, “Brian did this.” At least Adrian’s interview was recorded. In reviewing the interview techniques including lies and threats, the conclusion that his statement was involuntary was just.
This brings tears to my eyes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!