News 09.24.13

Illinois Woman Denied New Trial in Shaken Baby Syndrome Case

Pamela Jacobazzi, an Illinois woman convicted in 1999 of the death of 10-month-old Matthew Czapski, was denied a new trial last Friday. Jacobazzi, a former daycare worker, was sentenced to 32 years in prison for fatally shaking Czapski in 1994 while he was in her care. Czapski remained in a coma for more than a year before he died.

 

Although many physicians and prosecutors remain confident in their shaken baby judgments, a growing number of critics argue that the syndrome has been overly diagnosed and that innocent people have been sent to prison as a result.

 

Jacobazzi’s lawyers at the

Illinois Innocence Project

believe new science around shaken baby syndrome and evidence not presented at her trial point to her innocence. Among the new evidence are details about Czapski’s pre-existing medical condition that could have caused the bleeding in the brain that led to his death.

 

Chicago’s talk radio station 89 WLS reports that the new evidence presented by the Illinois Innocence Project convinced an appellate court to grant Jacobazzi’s request for a review but wasn’t enough for DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin, who released a statement about the ruling:


“My office has maintained all along that Pamela Jacobazzi alone is responsible for the death of Matthew Czapski,” Berlin said in the statement.

 

“Fourteen years ago, after a fair trial where Pamela Jacobazzi was represented by counsel of her choice, my office proved, and a jury agreed that Matthew’s death was the result of shaken baby syndrome. We also proved, and the jury agreed, that it was Ms. Jacobazzi who killed Matthew.”

The Illinois Innocence Project continues to call on Governor Quinn to grant clemency. Jacobazzi will be eligible for parole in May 2015.

 

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