Elko Man Brought Up On Murder Charges

ELKO – An Elko man accused in the death of an infant in May was bound over to district court Thursday on open murder


He was charged with open murder in the death of a 7-month-old male and child abuse or neglect of a 4-year-old boy.

Police said O’Dell, who is unrelated to the children, was caring for them when he called 911 to report the infant was not breathing.

The baby was flown to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City where he died two days later.

O’Dell was arrested on May 12 and booked in to Elko County Jail. He remains in custody.

According to court documents filed on May 14, O’Dell was watching the children while their mother worked out of town. He told police he left the baby alone and then found hi not breathing.
He said he tried to resuscitate the baby by splashing cold water in the shower, but dropped the baby from a height of about 12-18 inches as he was turning the water on.

Medical staff at Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital said the baby had multiple skull fractures indicative of “shaken baby syndrome.”

In talking with the police at the hospital, O’Dell reportedly admitted to striking the infant on the head out of frustration. He also admitted to spanking the older child for having trash under his bed.

At Primary Children’s, a doctor said the baby died from abusive head trauma resulting in brain damage.

In the criminal complaint, District Attorney Tyler Ingram said the state may seek the death penalty if O’Dell is convicted.

An arraignment date in district court is pending.

This article was originally published by ElkoDaily.com.


Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at www.ScottJuceam.com or you can click here.

October Trial Date Set For Man Accused In Baby’s Death

A Marietta man accused of killing his 2-month-old son by shaking him is scheduled to go on trial in October in Washington County Common Pleas Court.

A grand jury indicted Michael A. Dawson Jr., 31, on murder and endangering-children charges on Aug. 5, following his arrest by Washington County authorities on July 26.

According to online court records, he pleaded not guilty during a hearing in Common Pleas Court on Aug. 6 and a trial was scheduled for Oct. 7.

Dawson’s son, Gannon, died on July 26 at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, where he was taken after being treated at Marietta Memorial Hospital. The baby suffered a skull fracture; a broken collar bone that was already healing; seven to eight broken or fractured ribs in various stages of healing; and new and old hemorrhages that were consistent with shaken baby syndrome, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said.

Dawson remains in the Washington County Jail on a $500,000 bond.

UPDATE: 7/27/2020 2:05 P.M.

A Marietta man remains jailed on a murder charge after authorities said his 2-month-old baby died Sunday at a Columbus hospital of injuries apparently caused by his dad shaking him.

Washington County sheriff’s deputies arrested Michael A. Dawson, 31, on Sunday, and he was arraigned Monday morning in Marietta Municipal Court. A judge set his bond at $500,000 and scheduled a preliminary hearing for 1 p.m. on Aug. 5.

Deputies were called to 101 Longacre St., Marietta, on Thursday to investigate a report of a 2-month-old baby not breathing.

The baby, Gannon Dawson, was taken to Marietta Memorial Hospital and then flown to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, authorities said.

According to a sheriff’s office news release, deputies were told that Michael Dawson came home about 8 a.m. after working 13 consecutive days. The baby’s mother, Megan Wiggins, was asleep, and Dawson said that the baby had colic.

Dawson told investigators he picked up the baby and began feeding him. Soon after, the baby began vomiting and having trouble breathing. That’s when he said he woke up Wiggins and told her to call 911 while he started giving the baby CPR.

After the baby was taken to Marietta Memorial, the sheriff’s office said hospital employees were “highly” concerned that the baby had been abused, noting that Dawson’s account of what happened was not consistent with the baby’s injuries, which included bruising under or around his chin.

After the baby was taken to Nationwide Children’s, the sheriff’s office said detectives received notification of a skull fracture; a broken collar bone that was already healing; seven to eight broken or fractured ribs in various stages of healing; and new and old hemorrhages that were consistent with shaken baby syndrome. Liver damage and bruising to the bowels were also reported.

The sheriff’s office said detectives interviewed Dawson and Wiggins at the hospital in Columbus, and they agreed that the baby had not been dropped or been injured in a car accident. They also said the baby had not been left in the care of anyone else.

Wiggins also confirmed to detectives that the baby did not have any medical problems at birth.

Meanwhle, Dawson, according to the sheriff’s office, told detectives several times that he “never did anything to Gannon intentionally or just to be mean to him” and that he did not do anything intentionally to hurt his son.

ORIGINAL STORY: 7/27/20 11:19 A.M.

Sheriff Larry Mincks says an arrest has been made in a murder case in Washington County.

Mincks said a man was arrested Sunday in a case involving the death of a two- month-old child.

More details are to be released at a news conference Monday at 1 p.m.

This article was originally published by WTAP.com.


Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at www.ScottJuceam.com or you can click here.



Mom Of Shaken Baby Syndrome Survivor Speaks Out

As a working-from-home mom of a special needs young adult, Carolyn Stinnett understands the deep divide between those who say COVID-19 has run its course and want businesses opened up and those who feel it’s way too early to make that call.

Stinnett, a Blount County resident, teaches at the Blount County campus of Pellissippi State Community College and has been instructing her students online for weeks, something she said takes so much longer to do versus being in person in a classroom. Her son, Corey Chandler, is a survivor of shaken baby syndrome, a 21-year-old graduate of William Blount High School who functions at the level of a 6- to 9-month-old because of his severe injuries. So worried that she will bring the virus into her home, the devoted mom hasn’t gone anywhere except on short walks and necessary appointments.

“Corey has not been out of the house except for walks in his chair in secluded areas since March 10,” Stinnett said. “The anxiety a mom of a medically fragile child feels during normal circumstances is high, but the fear of COVID-19 exposure has driven my worries through the roof. I clean constantly. I myself haven’t been inside a building — any building — since I taught my last on-campus class March 12. I worry about him contracting the virus and how hospitalization would work. Would I be able to stay with him in ICU?”

He is a fighter

Chandler graduated from WBHS in May 2019, but the months leading up to his special day were filled with health crisis. Between January and May last year, he was hospitalized four times with pneumonia and the flu. He has chronic lung disease, making him vulnerable to pneumonia and other problems.

Because of sleep apnea, Chandler must use an iVap and keeps a pulse oximeter machine on at all times to monitor his heart rate and oxygenation.

The list of strikes against Chandler is long. He required spinal fusion surgery when he was younger. Cerebral palsy, a side effect of shaken baby syndrome, caused muscles to torque around the inserted rods, which makes one side of Chandler’s back unaligned with the other. His lung on that same side is also compressed, making expansion difficult, Stinnett explained.

She adopted Chandler when he was just a baby. Chandler was shaken violently by one or both birth parents when he was just a month old, which caused irreparable brain damage. It was at least 24 hours after the injury before the baby was taken to the hospital.

According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, there are 1,300 reported cases of shaken baby syndrome annually in the United States. About 25% of victims die, while 80% of those who survive have lifelong disabilities.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, with the third week designated for Shaken Baby Syndrome Awareness. Stinnett said she shares Chandler’s story in hopes of preventing someone else from destroying the life of a child with a 10-second mistake.

She said children are very vulnerable during quarantine. Adults and children are forced to wait it out 24/7 inside the home. Some parents have lost jobs or are working from home. Stress is through the roof in some instances.

Where stress can lead

“I would never wish what happened to Corey on another child, and while I wholeheartedly agree that the country should be sheltering in place until COVID-19 numbers show a sustained drop in cases, I do worry about children in homes where parents are stressed due to layoffs and money problems. Teachers normally provide a safety net because they see children every day during the school year and may be able to detect and report abuse in the early stages. Now, of course, students are sheltered at home so no one outside the family is able to keep track of their welfare. That is very scary.”

Marisa McPeck-Stringham is information and research specialist at the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome in Utah. She said the stress many are facing in this pandemic can lead to tragic mistakes.

“Stress is definitely a risk factor for shaken baby syndrome,” she said via phone. “When there is economic difficulty that includes job loss … we saw a rise in incidents during the last recession.”

McPeck-Stringham said it only takes seconds to inflict irreparable damage to a child. In severe cases like Corey’s immediate medical attention is critical. Some children experience a lower level of damage that might go undetected, she pointed out, only to be discovered later when the child has a seizure. While most have heard the term shaken baby syndrome, most doctors refer to it as inflicted head trauma, McPeck-Stringham pointed out. It is not just small infants who are the victims.

Who are our weak, defenseless?

A photo of a protestor in Nashville has made the rounds via social media. A sign read “Sacrifice the Weak; Reopen Tennessee.” Stinnett said she doesn’t know if the sign holder was referring to the elderly, disabled or medically fragile as the weak ones, but Chandler, she said, is a fighter.

“My son is one of the strongest people I know,” Stinnett said. “He functions as a 6- to 9-month old, all because he was shaken by birth parents. Few people could have made it 21½ years in Corey’s condition.”

There is a sign in Chandler’s room that sums it up: “A super hero lives here,” it states.

Ever since Chandler was a child, Stinnett has taken him with her to present at conferences on shaken baby syndrome. They have been to Salt Lake City, Atlanta and also Canada. They are set to attend a conference in September in Philadelphia, where Stinnett will talk about the challenges faced by children who survive shaken baby syndrome to age 21.

They no longer qualify for pediatric care and must find new doctors, Stinnett pointed out. Medications that were covered before age 21 are not after that. It is also more difficult to move and transport Chandler because of his size.

For all to see and know

“By presenting at conference, talking to various groups and giving information via newspaper or television interviews, our goal is prevention,” Stinnett said. “Corey was shaken at 1 month of age. His neck muscles were not developed and the violent back and forth motion of shaking causes internal trauma to the brain.”

Chandler had bruises on his chest where his chin struck during the violent shaking, Stinnett said. In addition, he also had bruises on his arms and a possible break where he was held tightly during the shaking.

“Most people’s nerves are on end during the pandemic,” the mom said. “A child’s crying can trigger shaking.”

Stinnett said adults should make sure the child doesn’t have some discomfort, such as a wet diaper and then put the child in a safe place, such as his or her bed, and walk away for a few minutes.

“No child ever died from crying,” she said. “But if a parent or caregiver loses his or her temper, or she may cause a child’s death or a lifetime of living with major health issues and permanent disabilities.”

McPeck-Stringham agreed, saying that crying is the No. 1 stimulus for abuse. Her organization provides educational programs to help parents cope in stressful situations. She said Stinnett is a great spokeswoman and hopes the conference in Philadelphia will take place as planned, with Stinnett in attendance.

“She is a wonderful mother and advocate,” McPeck-Stringham said.

This article was originally published by TheDailyTimes.com


Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at www.ScottJuceam.com or you can click here.

Pensacola Man Admits To Shaking Baby

A Pensacola man admitted to law enforcement that he shook a baby for eight to 10 seconds inducing shaken baby syndrome — causing brain hemorrhages, leading to seizures and necessitating the boy’s intubation.

Joe Gesse, 24, was arrested Tuesday morning, charged with aggravated child abuse and booked into the Escambia County Jail without a chance for bond.

Gesse admitted to Escambia County Sheriff’s Office investigators to shaking a baby left in his care by the boy’s mother when she went to work, according to his arrest report.

The child’s mother went to work from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. June 6, she told investigators. Before she left, her boy was “a little fussy” but not acting unusual, and she asked Gesse to look after her son while she was gone.

When she returned from work, the mother noticed the baby was not at all his normally-playful self but was fussy the whole night and did not sleep between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

She called her own mother for advice, who suggested that the boy was probably experiencing pain caused by teething and recommended putting a small amount of Orajel on his gums. However, “the baby continued to not act right,” the report stated.

Her son’s pediatrician told her to take her baby to the emergency room, and a CT scan revealed hemorrhaging in the baby’s brain that medical experts believe was caused by trauma.

A doctor at Sacred Heart Hospital informed the mother that because her baby was “consistently having seizures,” he would have to be put into a medically induced coma and placed on a ventilator. 

A physician later explained to ECSO investigators that the baby’s injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome as if someone had shook “him causing his brain to repeatedly hit the inside of his skull, which can cause sever brain damage or death,” the report stated.

Gesee later admitted to shaking the baby for 8 to ten seconds when the boy had been left in his care.

The child was weaned out of the medically-induced coma over the span of a few days and appeared to have moderate brain activity. At the time Gesse’s arrest report was written, it was “unknown what long-term disabilities” the baby would have from his injuries.

County records indicated that Geese remained in custody Tuesday afternoon.

This article was originally published by PNJ.com.


Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at www.ScottJuceam.com or you can click here.

Milwaukee Man Charged With Homicide Death Of Son

A 22-year-old Milwaukee man has been charged in connection to the death of his 3-month-old son.

Davionte Allen is charged with one count of first-degree reckless homicide and one count of neglecting a child, consequence is death.

According to a criminal complaint, Allen was left alone with the child for around an hour and a half on Friday, June 12 at a residence near 36th and Sheridan. During that time, the child’s mother had gone to run an errand. Upon her return, the child “appeared to be sleeping” inside a pack-and-play.

Allen recorded the child making “weird grunting noises” while the mother was away. Not knowing what happened while she was gone, the mother continued to let the child sleep.

Approximately two hours later, the complaint states, the mother went to wake the child, but he was limp and unresponsive. She then rushed him to the hospital.

A CT scan at the hospital showed large bleeding on the brain, consistent with traumatic impact from shaken baby syndrome. The child was intubated and transferred to the Children’s Wisconsin intensive care unit.

There, the child was found to have hemorrhages “too numerous to count” extended into all layers of the retina. The child also had brain hemorrhage and herniation and damage to the brainstem. The complaint states that the child also had multiple, healing rib fractures.

A brain death evaluation was made by the hospital’s neurology department, revealing a complete loss of brain function. The child was taken off life support and died on June 14.

The complaint states that the child’s injuries were ruled by a doctor as “immediately symptomatic.”

In an interview, Allen told police that the child was colic and would not stop crying and would not go to sleep while the mother was out. Allen said he rocked, bounced and burped the child before laying him down for a nap — and denied harming the child in any way.

After being arrested and questioned by Milwaukee police detectives, Allen admitted to picking the child up with force and jerking his body without supporting his head. The child then began breathing irregularly, and Allen said he took a video to show to the mother.

In the video, the complaint states, Allen is heard saying “you okay, (son)…oh no.”

An autopsy confirmed the child’s cause of death as blunt force trauma and ruled the manner of death a homicide.

This article was originally posted by Fox6now.com.


Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse

To learn more about me, please visit my website at www.ScottJuceam.com or you can click here.

Choctaw County Father Charged With Death Of Three-Month Old Baby

Today, the Choctaw County District Attorney’s Office charged 25-year-old Sean Gasway with Murder in the First Degree related to the death of his baby.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI), with assistance from the Choctaw County Sheriff’s Office, Hugo Police Department and Sawyer Police Department helped make the arrest.

The investigation began on April 10, 2020, when the Choctaw County Sheriff’s Office received a 9-1-1 call about an unresponsive three-month-old child.

The baby was transported to Choctaw County Memorial Hospital, and then transferred to Saint Francis Children’s Hospital in Tulsa, Okla.

Officials say it was determined that the victim had sustained a life-threatening brain injury.

The Choctaw County Sheriff’s Office contacted the OSBI and requested Investigative assistance with the case.

Officers say during the course of the investigation, it was determined that the baby’s injury was the result of Shaken Baby Syndrome and that the baby was in the care of his biological father, Gasway, at the time the injury occurred.

On April 15, 2020, the baby died at Saint Francis Children’s Hospital as a result of his injuries.

Gasway has been in custody since April 10 when he was arrested on an unrelated outstanding warrant and booked into the Choctaw County Jail. He remains in custody.

This article was originally published by OKCFox.com.


Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at www.ScottJuceam.com or you can click here.

Las Vegas Man Accused Of Injuring An Infant Twice

A North Las Vegas man is accused of seriously injuring an infant in his care for the second time in five years, according to North Las Vegas police.

Jason K. Broome, 26, was arrested this week by North Las Vegas police on two felony charges of child abuse-neglect. An arrest report for Broome says police were called to an area hospital on Feb. 25 for a report of an injured 4-month-old boy. Medical inspection showed Broome’s son “had hemorrhaging in both eyes, which was consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome,” a police investigator wrote in the report.

The infant was diagnosed with two frontal lobe brain bleeds, police said.

Broome and the child’s mother told police the baby fell on the ground while being given a bath.

“Since the parents’ story didn’t make any sense and was suspicious, the ER staff decided to call police and Child Protective Services,” police wrote.

Mother mentioned prior event

Further investigation showed the mother of the child told police she did not trust Broome in caring for the baby because of a prior incident in which Broome was babysitting the child in November. When she came home in November, she noticed the baby had two bruises on his temples. That day, Broome had texted the woman about the child, saying the baby is “more pissed because I’m not playing his game.”

“Jason then wrote about going to the store and getting Mike’s Hard Lemonade,” an arrest report states. “After, he stated, ‘Fine then. Be that way. I put lemonade in his bottle’ with a smiling face emoji.”

Broome was asked about the apparent bruises on the baby’s temples.

“Jason advised that he held (the baby) by his temples to hold up as he gave him a bath,” police wrote. “As a result, (the baby) had a bruise on his temple from behind held by him.”

An arrest report states Broome told police he was previously stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and that he’d been arrested there on a child neglect charge in 2014. Police said in that North Carolina incident, Broome’s then 3-month-old daughter suffered “the same injuries” as Broome’s son in North Las Vegas.

“Jason then said that the charges did not stick and he was released,” police wrote about the North Carolina case. “Jason’s daughter was removed from the home and he lost all parental rights to her.”

Police allege the similarities in the cases demonstrate “recurrent acts of abuse towards his biological children.”

There is a discrepancy in the report about when the child in North Las Vegas was injured. Police said they were called to the hospital in February to investigate the baby’s injuries, but later in the arrest report police said Broome told them of caring for the infant in March, and Justice Court records indicate the date of the alleged offense was March 18.

Broome was being held at the Clark County Detention Center as of Friday morning. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April.

This article was originally published by ReviewJournal.com.


Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at www.ScottJuceam.com or you can click here.

Lost Dog And Boy With Shaken Baby Syndrome Have An Amazing Reunion

The companionship between Kenneth Marret and his 15-year-old dog Baxter is a special one.

A boy and his best friend were reunited this week after a potential tragedy turned into a miracle.

The companionship between Kenneth Marret and his 15-year-old dog Baxter is a special one. At two months old, Kenneth’s birth father shook him so hard it left him partially blind and with only 40% of his brain functioning properly.

“Kenneth was really not expected to walk, talk, eat, pretty much a vegetable is what they told us,” Steve Marrett, Kenneth’s adoptive father, said.

Kenneth’s birth father was convicted and went to prison. When Kenneth was three months old, Steve Marret and his wife Marcia started fostering him.

“A lot of attention, a lot of therapy, he started developing and improving,” Marret said. After two years, they decided to adopt him.

“We fell in love with him, we cared for him, we’ve been through so much together,” he said.

Kenneth immediately bonded with Baxter, the Marret’s cairn terrier.

“From the beginning, once we brought Kenneth home, Baxter has this sense of ‘I’m going to protect this little guy.’”

The dog became one of Kenneth’s motivators to use his legs.

“Baxter would run away from him and Kenneth would initially crawl and when he started walking, he would chase him around the house,” Marret said.

The pair were inseparable until February 24th, 2020. Marcia had let Baxter outside to use the bathroom.

“I’m getting worried because he’s always back, he never came back that night,” she said.

Neighbors started searching the woods as 5-year-old Kenneth hunted through the house.

“He’d go to different rooms, he would wander around, you could tell he was looking for him.”

After days and weeks went by, the Marret family started to lose faith.

“I was started to accept the fact that we would never see him again,” Marret said.

Eighteen days later, Marcia got a call.

“Marcia’s talking to a friend saying, ‘There’s a dog that looks like Baxter that’s been found, they need to get a hold of you,” Marret said.

Tim and Angela Vaal were fishing at Lake Patoka when they saw Baxter stuck in the mud near a shoreline. It was over a mile from the Marret home. 

Baxter was covered in ticks and had lost seven pounds, but he was alive.

“I’m getting goosebumps now,” Marret said. “It was like this is a miracle. It can’t be and it was.”

It was a reunion to remember between Kenneth and Baxter.

“Kenneth was so excited, and he throws his arms and legs, it was cool. Kenneth was so happy,” Marcia said.

The entire incident served as a reminder of life’s blessings for the Marrets.

“If you don’t believe in miracles, it’s time to start. We do.”

This article was originally published by WHAS11.com.


Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at www.ScottJuceam.com or you can click here.

Toddler’s Cause Of Death Changed: Mom Still Behind Bars

At 44 years old, Tasha Shelby has spent over half of her life in prison. Convicted of capital murder in the 1997 death of her fiance’s toddler son, the prosecution and a medical examiner pointed to shaken baby syndrome.

But that same medical examiner, since retired, has changed the cause of death from homicide to accidental.

Shelby, talking to the Clarion Ledger from the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County Tuesday, vows she’ll never stop fighting to prove her innocence.

On Wednesday, her attorneys and the state will make oral arguments before the Mississippi Court of Appeals. 

The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office is representing the state in the appeal but declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation. However, in a brief filed with the appeals court, the state argues, among other things, that the changed opinion on the cause of death isn’t new. The state also disputes the toddler’s history of seizures and maintains the child died by blunt force trauma.

Shelby’s conviction was upheld last year by Harrison County Circuit Court Judge Roger T. Clark.

The child’s father, Bryan Thompson III, who once testified on Shelby’s behalf, told the Clarion Ledger Wednesday that the toddler “never had any seizures of any kind.”

‘I made a mistake,’ retired medical examiner says

Dr. LeRoy Riddick, a retired medical examiner for the state of Alabama, performed the autopsy on 2½-year-old Bryan “Little Bryan” Thompson IV. Riddick testified at Shelby’s trial that the injuries weren’t accidental and the toddler died of “blunt force trauma to the head.” Shelby was convicted of capital murder in June 2000 and sentenced to life in prison.

In 2016, however, in a sworn affidavit Riddick wrote that, at the request of Shelby’s legal team, he reviewed the toddler’s medical records “and reexamined my own files pertaining to this case.”

In the affidavit he writes: “If, at the time of the autopsy and trial, I had known about Bryan Thompson IV’s seizures days before his collapse, I would have approached the case differently. Moreover, the forensic evidence supporting ‘The Shaken Baby Syndrome’ and severe brain reactions to minor trauma has changed significantly since 1997. Given this information, it is likely that my conclusions might have been different.”

Last week, Riddick told the Clarion Ledger that the injuries could have been caused by a fall from seizures or from being moved multiple times from the house to the hospital. 

“The major reason that I changed was I made a mistake and the mistake was in terms of the manner of death,” Riddick said. 

A thump in the bedroom

On the night of May 30, 1997, Shelby was in bed in the Biloxi home she shared with Thompson and three young children — his son, Little Bryan, her son, and their newborn.

She had given birth 10 days prior via cesarean section and was supposed to be on light bedrest. Thompson was at work and Shelby told investigators she heard a thump come from Little Bryan’s bedroom. She got out of bed, went in his room, and found the toddler convulsing on the floor.

She called Thompson and when he arrived home, the two rushed the toddler to the emergency room, driving so fast they were pulled over. Police then escorted them to Biloxi Regional Hospital, with an officer jumping into the family’s van and performing CPR on the toddler, Shelby’s attorney, Valena Beety with the West Virginia Innocence Project, said. In 2011, Beety took on Shelby’s case while with the Mississippi Innocence Project.

Within hours, the toddler was transported to the University of South Alabama Hospital in Mobile. He died the next day.

Beety said, typically, doctors look for three symptoms in a shaken baby case: Swelling of the brain, bleeding of the brain and bleeding in the retina.

In this case, she said, authorities believed the toddler had swelling of the brain and bleeding of the brain. But, she argues, the toddler had a history of seizures that, combined with a lack of oxygen, could have caused both.

Riddick agrees, saying so in the affidavit and noting that the toddler “had a seizure disorder and was having multiple seizures in the days before his death.” 

Thompson, who lives on the Mississippi Coast, is adamant that his son “never had no seizures, ever.” He told the Clarion Ledger he believes Shelby killed the toddler and regrets testifying on her behalf. But, he said, he was “trying to keep my family together.” 

“Looking back, it’s psychotic I couldn’t see what happened,” he said. 

After the toddler’s death, Thompson said he tried to kill himself. He was using cocaine and heroin, he said, overdosing 11 times. Each of the 11 times he overdosed on heroin, he was saved by NARCAN. He served time in jail and has since been involved in a drug recovery program. He’s been sober for three years, he said. 

“I relived the whole thing when I got sober,” Thompson said. “I relived it because I never really faced when I was on drugs it but it’s like the whole thing is happening again.”

Shaken baby syndrome: After 16 years, Jeffrey Havard is off Mississippi’s death row

‘No indication of real violence’

In speaking with the Clarion Ledger, Riddick said the toddler had external bruises, “but did not have an lacerations or tears.”

“The bruises were not deep in the sense that they did not go down to the muscle or anything else,” he said. “Internally, there were no fractures and there were no tears of any internal organs. So, they were not the injuries that you would think was due to violence.”

The toddler’s injuries “can be accounted for, by one, from falls from a short distance,” he said.

“The minor injuries that he had could all be accounted for by his falling from the bed from having seizures while he was there and by being moved from the house to the hospital, from the hospital to another hospital, and in the hospital,” Riddick said. 

“The minor injury with Bryan can cause the brain to swell. When the brain swells, it compresses vital centers and leads to death.The subdural hemorrhage was a small subdural. The neurosurgeon who reviewed the case said it was a small subdural…minor movement of the head can cause those but this is not the kind of injury that I testified to. A tear takes far more force.”

Because of that, Riddick changed the cause of death from homicide to accidental. The toddler’s death certificate was officially changed in June 2018. 

“It’s not totally innocuous,” he said. “All the bruises could be accounted for…I had no indication of real violence so I changed the manner of death to accident.”

The situation, Beety said, is a “double tragedy.”

“Little Bryan dies and now Tasha is in prison for life,” she said. 

Beety questioned how Shelby could have shaken the toddler in such a way to cause death. 

He was 3 feet tall and weighed approximately 30 pounds, she said. Shelby, who is 4-feet-9-inches and weighed approximately 120 pounds, was recovering from a c-section and a tubal ligation. She’d also had her stitches removed two days prior to the incident. 

In speaking with the Clarion Ledger, Shelby was advised to not talk about the specifics of the case but she maintained her innocence. 

‘I loved being a mama’

Born in Columbus, Shelby and her father moved to Texas when she was 2  years old. He remarried when she was 4 and Shelby eventually became the oldest of seven siblings. She relished the role, she said, and was the “caretaker” of the bunch. 

But then, when she was 14, her father died in a car accident. In an effort to try to reconnect with her biological mother, Shelby moved back to Mississippi. 

She dropped of of high school after 10th grade and later became pregnant with a son, Dakota, at 18. The relationship with Dakota’s father didn’t work out and Shelby was raising a young son on her own. 

She and Thompson had been friends for years and Shelby found herself drawn to the fact that he was a “good guy.”

The couple soon moved in together, got engaged and, at 21, Shelby became pregnant again. She was “super excited” for the young family to grow.

“I loved being a mama,” she said. “I had the two boys and I was having a little girl.”

Thompson had been fighting for custody of his son and, after Dakota’s third birthday, Little Bryan came to live with the couple permanently. 

“I was just a stay-at-home mama and Bryan worked and we were just doing our thing every day and that’s how I liked it,” she said. “To me, that’s just what I was always supposed to do.”

Thompson worked in lumber and Shelby stayed at home with the boys. Their days were filled with trips to feed the birds and the Biloxi aquarium — both boys like seeing the turtles — and venturing down to the beach.

About six months prior to his death, Little Bryan was burned by bath water. Beety said Shelby and Thompson took him to the hospital. The state investigated the incident and found it to be accidental.

I thought, ‘This is all going to be straightened out’ 

That first night in jail, in between the tears, Shelby said she thought “that someone was going to come and hear the truth and listen to me.”

“I thought they had made a mistake, I thought ‘Why is this happening?’ I was so confused, I didn’t understand. I was scared … I just felt so lost and alone and thought ‘This is all going to be straightened out tomorrow.’

“Of course, a cliche, but tomorrow never comes because here we are 22½ years later and nothing has ever been straightened out.”

The entire experience, she said, has been “unreal.”

When Devon was born, she had dark hair like her father, the roundness of Shelby’s face and “the Shelby nose.”

She was only a few weeks old when Shelby was arrested. 

“Everything happened so fast,” she said. “They came and took her and I was arrested shortly after that. I’ve never seen her again in real life, only in pictures.”

Newborn daughter was adopted

After the trial, Thompson gave up custody and Devon was adopted. 

Her daughter, Shelby said, doesn’t know she exists. 

“She thinks the people who have raised her are her mom and dad,” Tasha said. “She doesn’t even know that I’m somebody in this world.”

Family friends have found the young woman on social media and shown pictures to Shelby over the years. She recognizes herself in the photos.

“At this point she looks identical to me,” Shelby said. “The day we ever do get to see face to face, she’ll know without a doubt I’m her mama.”

But she hasn’t reached out to her and has asked family not to as well. She wants to be “respectful” and give her adoptive mother a chance to tell her first. She’s hopeful that day will come soon. 

“I always have a dream of this to all be over, to be vindicated and for the court to finally see and justice really prevail and to go to her and say, ‘Here I am.'”

Letters from son and a divorce

After years of not having a relationship, Dakota reached out to Shelby when he was 15 years old but the two never got a chance to reconnect in person. Two years later, he was arrested in Missouri. Mother and son wrote letters throughout their incarcerations. He got out of prison last year. He turns 26 this year. 

Sitting in prison, Shelby said she mourns the losses. 

“To me, Little Bryan was never my stepchild,” she said. “He was just a part of me, same as Dakota. I miss him tremendously, as much as I miss Dakota and Devon now.”

Shelby and Thompson married in the aftermath of Little Bryan’s death but divorced in 2016. They haven’t talked since 1998, before he testified on her behalf at trial, she said. She cited abandonment in the divorce papers. 

“I held onto a lot of things that didn’t hold on to me,” she said. 

This article was originally published by ClarionLedger.com.


Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at www.ScottJuceam.com or you can click here.

Father Of Shaken Baby Has Been Charged With Murder

A father who shook and critically injured his baby more than eight years ago was hit Friday with murder charges for the child’s death.

Kashawn Butler, 26, of 69 Old River Road, was charged after his son, born Sincere Butler, died at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Children’s Hospital on June 15, 2019. The child, who was later renamed Isaiah J. Pentz, was 7 years old.

The obituary submitted by his adoptive family in Grampian said he “smiled for the first time, taking his first steps as he ran into the arms of Jesus.”

Assistant District Attorney Jarrett J. Ferentino, the lead prosecutor, said he was committed to getting justice for Isaiah.

“As a father, child death cases are especially difficult, but I’m inspired by baby Isaiah’s fight to survive as long as he did,” Ferentino said. “Even though his time on this earth was far too short, we will pursue justice in this case.”

According to the complaint, Butler was watching his son on Dec. 4, 2011, while the mother went to a store and that the baby threw up while he was feeding him a bottle.

The baby also cried and made a noise Butler didn’t like, so he shook him, the complaint says. During questioning by police, Butler said he didn’t mean to hurt Isaiah but that the crying and spitting up had upset him, the charges say.

Isaiah, who stopped breathing as a result of being shaken, was taken to Geisinger Medical Center Danville, where doctors diagnosed him with internal bleeding consistent with shaken baby syndrome.

Doctors predicted that Isaiah had a one-third chance of dying and that if he lived he would most likely be in a persistent vegetative state, the complaint says.

The complaint says that after Isaiah died, an autopsy determined he died of pneumonia and a seizure disorder caused by complications of his traumatic brain injury.

Butler was initially charged with aggravated assault and related offenses in the case, and was sentenced to five years, nine months to 12½ years in prison after pleading no contest to the charges.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Butler entered state prison Dec. 4, 2012, and was paroled Oct. 3, 2018. He was re-incarcerated Nov. 18, 2019, for violating his parole and was released again Thursday, according to the department.

However, authorities said Butler remained in custody and was set to be arraigned by video on the criminal homicide charge.

A preliminary hearing date had not been immediately set.

This article was originally published by Citizensvoice.com.


Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website awww.ScottJuceam.com or you can click here.