Mississippi and New York Shaken Baby Convictions Tossed


Two Shaken-Baby convictions were overturned this week, with judges citing changing medical opinion regarding the controversial diagnosis. 

On Monday, the Mississippi Supreme Court ordered a new trial for Leevester Brown, who was convicted of murder in 2003 for the death of his 6-month-old son. At the trial, Medical Examiner Steven Hayne testified Brown’s son died of Shaken-Baby Syndrome. During his career, Hayne attracted significant controversy surrounding his medical practices and testimony in criminal trials.  His testimony contributed to the wrongful convictions of Innocence Project clients Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks, who were exonerated after DNA evidence in Brewer’s case identified the real perpetrator who subsequently confessed to the rape and murder in Brooks’ case.  


Brown’s is the second case in recent months where the Mississippi court has questioned a Shaken-Baby Syndrome conviction involving Hayne. In August, the court ordered the trial court to conduct an 

evidentiary hearing

 in the case of Mississippi Innocence Project client Christopher Brandon after the Mississippi project revealed that Hayne supported his testimony by relying on a study that doesn’t exist.   Since 2000, at least 11 Mississippians have been convicted in Shaken Baby Syndrome cases, two of whom were sentenced to death.

In New York, the murder conviction of René Bailey was reversed Tuesday morning by Monroe County Judge James Piampiano, who ruled that the science used to convict her has changed significantly since her conviction.

Bailey, who ran a home daycare in Greece, New York, was found guilty of second-degree murder in 2002 after a child in her care died from head injuries. At an April hearing, Bailey’s attorney Adele Bernhard brought a motion presenting new medical evidence which was not available at the time of the trial.  According to the motion, experts now say the child’s injuries could have been caused by a fall, as Bailey’s defense originally claimed. Bailey will remain in jail pending an appellate ruling or a new trial.

Read more about Brown’s case

Read more about Bailey’s case.

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