Shaken: A Diagnosis on Trial tells the true story of Stephanie Olsa, a suburban wife and mother convicted in 1997 of shaking a neighbor’s baby nearly to death. Shaken interweaves Stephanie’s story, the medical and legal history of SBS, and enough infant physiology to let the reader follow the action.
While I decide how best to publish, I’ve posted the first third of the book outline and a few chapters of different types. The full book proposal is available on request: sue dot luttner at gmail dot com.
- The infant Dinah seems to choke and quit breathing in the arms of an adult woman babysitter.
- The babysitter, Stephanie Olsa, is accused of shaking the infant.
- The police question Stephanie.
- Child-abuse prosecutor Rob Parrish teaches at an SBS conference that the symptoms of an infant shaking are obvious immediately in all cases.
5. “My dad will raise whatever it takes”
- Stephanie gets feisty at the county jail.
6. “They must have found something at the hospital”
- A physician friend of the author’s provides an introduction to infant brain physiology.
7. “Why don’t you tell me everything that happened that day?”
- Stephanie meets her attorney, David Dodge.
- Pediatric neurosurgeon A. Norman Guthkelch and radiologist John Caffey postulate infant shaking as a mechanism of producing subdural hematoma.
9. “There would be no interval”
- Dr. Dominic Sanfilippo testifies at the preliminary hearing.
- The SBS research of the 1980s raises more questions than it answers.
11. “I told you not to take that baby back”
- Stephanie’s marriage feels the strain.
12. “No one would listen”
- The mother of a shaken infant tells how she was turned away twice at the ER over several hours before her son stopped breathing in the waiting room.
13. “Nobody can believe it”
- Stephanie’s first trial ends in a hung jury; a second trial is scheduled.
14. “The British nanny, it’s just like my niece”
- The Louise Woodward case bring SBS to national attention.
15. “It’s really interesting how it works”
- A neonatal intensivist explains run-away cerebral edema.
16. “California’s nightmare nursery”
- The history of child protection is shockingly short. The early days include social hysterias over pre-school child prostitution rings and organized cults performing satanic ritual abuse.
17. “It’s possible the emphasized point is inappropriately diversionary”
- The author begins reading the trial transcripts, despairs at the inscrutability of the medical testimony.
18. “After a variable time, the infant will develop signs of cerebral irritation”
- The author takes an SBS bibliography to the medical library.