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The Other Shoe Drops in Cavazos v. Smith

2012 April 4
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by Alex Coolman

When the United States Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit’s grant of habeas in the “shaken baby” case of Cavazos v. Smith last October, it looked like the case was over.  But that doesn’t mean that the petitioner in that case was necessarily rightly convicted, according to a new report described by the Wrongful Convictions Blog.

The report, by a  senior pathologist in the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, now points to multiple problems with the evidence that purported to show that the petitioner, Shirley Smith, killed her 7-week-old grandson.

the newly disclosed report by the pathologist, James Ribe, details eight “diagnostic problems” with the coroner’s 1996 ruling that the child had died from violent shaking or a forceful blow to the head.  Ribe’s report notes that there was no evidence of abuse, and that the child’s brain injuries were relatively minor and could have been caused by suffocation from sleeping face down on a couch cushion or even from the birth process.

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