‘Feral’ Children Hope For Relief

VALPARAISO — Portage Police Sgt. Janis Crafton hesitated with emotion Monday as she described for the court how three young children, who had become feral-like as a result of serious neglect by their mother, found their glimmer of hope with Gary Hanney dashed when his own neglect resulted in the death of the youngest sibling.

Hanney sat nearby in the courtroom and wept as well during what turned out to be the first phase of a two-day sentencing hearing three months after the 32-year-old Wheatfield resident pleaded guilty to a level 1 felony count of neglect of a dependent in the July 18, 2017 incident that led to the death of the 19-month-old girl.

The sentencing is scheduled to wrap up at 9 a.m. June 23 before Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Clymer.

Hanney, who faces 20 to 40 years behind bars, was living in Portage with Tamika Conley and was caring for her three children when at some point on the night in question, he claims he became aware that the youngest girl was injured and in need of medical care, according to court documents.

But rather than seek immediate care, he searched the internet for information about head trauma and called Conley home from work, according to officials. He waited 44 minutes to call for help and responding officials found the child was not breathing and had no pulse.

While Hanney claimed the child was injured after being bounced from a bed, Shannon Thompson, a child abuse pediatrician at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, testified Monday that that was not a plausible explanation for the child’s extensive injuries, which included bruising from nearly head to toe, bleeding in the brain and

The child died July 21, 2017.

Crafton said the deceased girl, and her then-6-year-old brother and 4-year-old sister, probably received the most stability in their life during the seven months they spent involved with Hanney.

Conley, 26, who has pleaded guilty to three level 3 felony counts of neglect of a dependent and faces 30 years of probation once Hanney’s case is wrapped up, did not regularly feed her children, locked them up in rooms, gave them Benadryl to sleep, Crafton said.

Crafton described their home at Camelot Manor Estates mobile home park as “barren” and “filthy.”

The children slept on stained bare mattresses on the floor, she said, and found scattered around the home were small bags used for heroin, drug needles and burned drug spoons.

Crafton described Conley’s lack of emotion as the most severe she has ever seen in her police work.

When she and another official were left to arrange for the child’s funeral, they offered the little girl’s ashes to Conley and her response was, “Well you care about her, so you take them,” Crafton said.

Hanney had pleaded guilty once prior in the case, but agreed with prosecutors in August to dismiss that agreement that carried a potential sentence of 20 to 30 years behind bars.

He told The Times in an exclusive interview in August that while admitting culpability in not seeking help sooner for the child, he was having second thoughts about having pleaded guilty to such a high-level criminal offense. He said he did not knowingly hurt the child and that the girl’s mother played a bigger role in the case than has been portrayed.

This article was originally published by NWITimes.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.

Court To Take Another Look At Shaken Baby Case

The Mississippi Supreme Court has agreed to review the case of Joshua Clark, an Itawamba County man whose murder conviction was overturned last fall.

The Supreme Court last week granted petitions for both Clark and the state. It will now be up to the high court to decided whether to reinstate Clark’s conviction, order a new trail or drop the charges and set him free.

In 2016, the state accused Clark in the “Shaken Baby Syndrome” death of his 4-month-old daughter. The state’s medical expert, Dr. Karen Lakin, testified that in her opinion, the child had been violently shaken, causing a fatal brain injury. Clark was later convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

In late October 2019, the Mississippi Court of Appeals reversed the conviction in a split decision, ruling that Lakin did not provide supporting materials for her findings and her testimony should not have been allowed. They remanded the case back to circuit court for a new trial. How much, if any, of Lakin’s testimony can be admitted in a future trail will be decided by the new judge.

In making their decision, Mississippi’s highest court justices will consider arguments from both sides.

Clark and his attorney, Jim Waide of Tupelo, argue that new medical science has disproved Shaken Baby Syndrome, saying without that argument, the state has no case and Clark should be released from prison to await a new trial or all charges should be dropped.

“The only issue worthy of review by (the supreme court) is whether the state should be allowed to have a second trial to produce scientific evidence which it failed to produce at the first trial,” Waide wrote in his petition.

The state says the Court of Appeals was wrong to throw out the state’s expert witness testimony about Shaken Baby Syndrome and asks the Supreme Court to reinstate Clark’s conviction.

Mississippi Special Assistant Attorney General Scott Stuart argues that if the Court of Appeals ruling is allowed to stand and become precedent, it could cause problems and set new higher standards for expert witness testimony.

“(The ruling will) take away the discretion to admit or exclude expert testimony from the trial judges of this state,” Stuart wrote.

The Supreme Court has not issued any time frame on when it will take up the case. As part of the review, the high court could look at Clark’s other arguments that the Court of Appeals did not consider in their reversal ruling.

Despite his conviction being overturned, Clark will likely remain in state prison until the Mississippi Supreme Court hands down its final ruling. In a January bond hearing, Waide argued Clark should be released.

Circuit Court Judge Kelly Mims, who took over the case following the retirement of Judge Thomas Gardner, did not agree. Mims said that since the case was still being appealed, Clark was still technically a convicted murderer and ordered him to remain in prison.

Clark has been in jail or prison for 12 years. He was originally charged with capital murder following the January 2008 death of Kylie Clark. During his first trial in 2010, he accepted a plea agreement, pleaded guilty to depraved heart murder and was sentenced to life in prison. On direct appeal, that plea was vacated by Judge Gardner on the grounds of ineffective counsel. Gardner also presided over the second trial.

This article was originally published by DJournal.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 And Boyfriend Charged In Baby Injury

A local mother and her boyfriend were charged with injuring her 6-month-old daughter on April 20 in Odessa, an Odessa Police Department report detailed.

Madeline Macias, 22, and her boyfriend Tyler Zachary Terry, 30, were both charged with injury to a child with intentional serious bodily injury and mental, family violence, a first degree felony.

The affidavit detailed that OPD was called to Medical Center Hospital about injuries to Macias’s 6-month old daughter.

Macias reportedly told OPD that while unloading her car in multiple trips at Terry’s apartment, she went inside and saw her daughter crying on the couch. Macias reportedly picked her up and said she noticed her daughter had no control of her head and that her arms were stiff.

The report detailed that Macias later changed her story and said that while she was unloading the car, her daughter was with Terry in the bedroom. She reportedly said that when she went into the apartment she found her daughter on the couch crying and Terry came out of the bedroom, picked up the daughter and handed her to Macias.

OPD later learned that Macias’s daughter began vomiting thick mucus like liquid and her eyes rolled to the back of her head.

When OPD reportedly asked Macias if her daughter had sustained any trauma, Macias said that four days earlier on a Thursday, her daughter fell off the couch. Doctors reportedly told OPD that falling off a couch would not cause the kind of internal brain trauma that her daughter had.

When OPD interviewed Terry, he detailed that he didn’t know what happened to the 6-month-old, but that she was on the couch when she began to vomit. Terry reportedly said he performed CPR on Macias’s daughter while the couple was talking to the 911 operator. Terry denied causing any injury.

The 6-month-old was flown to University Medical Center in Lubbock for more care where she was examined by several doctors. One of the doctors, an ophthalmologist revealed numerous pre-retinal, intra-retinal and sub-retinal hemorrhages extending to the periphery bilaterally. He said that these signs are substantial evidence of physical abuse consistent with abusive head trauma, known as Shaken Baby Syndrome. The 6-month-old needed a transfontanel tap to relieve pressure from the injury, the report details.

Macias and Terry were transported to the Ector County Law Enforcement Center. Terry was booked into jail on May 6, while Macias was booked on May 7, jail records show. Terry and Macias each had one bond totaling $100,000. Terry posted bail on Friday, while Macias was bailed out on Sunday.

This article was originally published by OAOA.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.

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.

Doctors Warn Of Child Abuse Risks During Pandemic

Doctors are on the lookout and warning of a potential increase in child abuse as the coronavirus pandemic takes its toll on communities and economies around the world.

Health experts at Community Medical Center say the last economic downturn between 2007 and 2009 resulted in a 65% increase in abusive head trauma, formerly known as shaken baby syndrome.

“When there is a recession or other financial insecurity, there’s going to be a higher risk of violence or domestic violence, child abuse falling into that category,” said Dr. Laurie Carter, a pediatric hospitalist at Community Children’s in Missoula.

Carter wants Montanans to be aware of the heightened risk of child abuse that come during these unprecedented times.

The coronavirus pandemic has closed schools and child care services which have mandatory reporters who can keep track of at-risk children.

“It may be that after we no longer have to practice social distancing, that these cases are just going to come in large numbers, because when the children return to school or day care, people will recognize that there has been maltreatment in the interim,” said Carter.

If you suspect child abuse call the Child and Family Services Division child abuse hotline at 866-820-5437.

The following press release gives details on what to do if you are living with children or if you know of any at-risk families:

Yesterday, Montana governor, Steve Bullock, issued a “stay at home” order for all Montanans, only allowing us to leave home for certain necessary functions, such as buying food or medicine, going to work at essential businesses, or performing outdoor recreation, as long as everyone maintains physical distance (six feet apart) in these situations.

“While this action by the state is necessary to flatten the curve of COVID-19 in our state to preserve our medical equipment and healthcare staff, it also comes a ripple effect not directly related to medical illness,” says Laurie Carter, MD, pediatric hospitalist at Community Children’s in Missoula. “Our nation is experiencing an unprecedented increase in unemployment, which will be followed by financial insecurity for most Montanans. If past experience can predict the future, this will likely be followed by an increase in child abuse.”

During the last economic downturn, The Great Recession, that occurred from 2007 to 2009, the rate of abusive head trauma, formerly known as “shaken baby syndrome,” increased by 65 percent in the three years during the downturn compared to the three years before The Great Recession.

Our public schools are closed, at least through April 10, and many child care centers have similarly closed. This has led to families, who are already burdened by anxiety or unemployment, having to spend every hour, every day of the week together. Well known risk factors for child abuse are social isolation, parenting stress and family stress – which most likely will describe the environment of many homes where the “stay at home” order is being applied.

Other parts of the country, which have more extensively been affected by COVID-19 to date, have already noted this increase in child abuse, and believe it is directly related to the stress of social distancing and unemployment.

On March 20, a children’s hospital in Fort Worth, Texas reported seven cases of severe child abuse, with two deaths in one week. Typically, their hospital would see this many cases over the course of a month, and a total of six deaths each year from abuse.

Another concerning statistic is that the fewer people have been calling the child abuse hotline in Colorado since the pandemic closed school and other family services. Between March 2 and 6, they received greater than 4,800 calls. This past week they have only received half that number. This decrease is most likely due to fewer teachers and non-parental caregivers being in contact with children.

What can we do to decrease the risk of child abuse?

Check in with your friends and offer a listening ear. If you are in a position to do so, support your neighbors’ food security and financial security with donations to our food banks/pantries or charities like the United Way, which offer direct financial support to lessen the impact of unemployment.

Additionally, look to make your own relationships with your children as positive and healthy as you can. The American Academy of Pediatrics has published parenting tips on their HealthyChildren.org website, including:

Engage your children in constructive activities.

Bored or frustrated children are more likely to act out. Many children have had their lives disrupted. They are out of school, and they can’t play with their friends.

Help them with their fears.

Children who are old enough to follow the news may be afraid, for example, that they or their parents are going to die. You can acknowledge the fear, and discuss all the things you are doing to stay healthy, such as washing hands and staying home to avoid germs.

Call a time-out.

This discipline tool works best by warning children they will get a time-out if they don’t stop, reminding them what they did wrong in as few words and with as little emotion as possible, and removing them from the situation for a pre-set length of time (1 minute per year of age is a good guide).

Know when not to respond.

As long as your child isn’t doing something dangerous and gets plenty of attention for good behavior, ignoring bad behavior can be an effective way of stopping it. Ignoring bad behavior also can teach children natural consequences of their actions. For example, if your child keeps dropping his food on purpose, he soon will have no more crackers left to eat.

Catch them being good.

Children need to know when they do something bad—and when they do something good. Notice good behavior and point it out, praising success and good tries. This is particularly important in these difficult times, when children are separated from their friends and usual routines.

Give them your attention.

The most powerful tool for effective discipline is attention—to reinforce good behaviors and discourage others. Remember, all children want their parent’s attention. When parents are trying to work at home, this can be particularly challenging. Clear communication and setting expectations can help, particularly with older children.

If you are ever concerned that you, or someone you know, is at risk of harming a child,

PLEASE call the Child & Family Services Division child abuse hotline: (866) 820-5437

Other resources from HealthyChildren.org.

This article was originally published by NBCMontana.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.

Police Arrest Man For Death Of His Infant Child

On October 20, 2018, the six-month-old was hospitalized in critical condition in a pediatric intensive care unit. The child was pronounced deceased the next day.

Police say the child had symptoms of a shaken baby syndrome, also known as abusive head trauma, which occurs when a child has been violently enough to cause injury to the brain.

According to a release from New Haven Police, “Following a number of interviews, search warrants, and related forensic tests, NHPD Special Victims Unit (SVU) Detective Leonardo Soto obtained an arrest warrant for Ratchford on February 27, 2020.”

Rashaad Ratchford turned himself in at the New Haven Police Department on Wednesday, March 4th and faces charges of 1st-Degree Manslaughter and Risk of Injury to a Child.

In the release, Assistant Chief of Investigations Karl Jacobson was quoted as saying, “Detective Soto and other members of the Special Victims Unit used their diligence and fought for justice for the child who no longer had a voice in the matter. I commend Detective Soto and ALL the members of SVU for their tireless search for justice.”

Ratchford’s pleaded Not Guilty at an arraignment last week, where his bond was set $150,000. He is due in court again on March 31st.

This article was originally published by Fox61.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.