Globe: shaken-baby defense never saw exculpatory evidence

“Middlesex County prosecutors had information that could have helped Aisling Brady McCarthy, the nanny accused of killing the 1-year-old she was caring for. But instead of sharing it, as they should have, they kept it to themselves for more than a year while she remained in jail.” [Yvonne Abraham, Boston Globe; Radley Balko]

6 Comments

  • How were they supposed to know they were supposed to disclose this sort of stuff?

    It’s not like her middle name was Brady or anything.

  • In this case I don’t understand why the new evidence was presented only to the prosecution. Some information, e.g. reports from confidential police informants, may go in the first instance only to the police and/or prosecution,, but evidence there is no reason evidence as to, e.g., cause of death should not be given simultaneously to both prosecution and defense.

  • ” there is no reason evidence as to, e.g., cause of death should not be given simultaneously to both prosecution and defense.”

    True in theory, but it never works that way in practice for several reasons.

    1. The crime lab and the medical examiners office are government entities and in many jurisdictions are part of the police department.

    2. That sort of evidence is often if not normally produced before an arrest is made and there fore there is no defense to give the evidence too at the point where it is given to the police/prosecutor. Cause of death in particular is normally determined prior to an arrest because without cause of death there may not be cause to arrest anyone.

  • Sure, but whatever the medical examiner produces before the case is filed can be turned over to the defense as soon as there is one.

    The fact that the crime lab and medical examiner’s office are part of the police department is part of the problem.

  • Another big part of the problem is the common lack of consequences for agencies/attorneys found to have failed to timely disclose such information. Until there is a real incentive for following the law requiring disclosure, the incentives for winning/keeping people locked up will prevail. I have seen individual prosecutors who provide the necessary incentives within their own offices (allegations of a failure to disclose were promptly investigated and violations receiving significant discipline including firing–and everyone in the office knew it). However, in most jurisdictions one must rely on the court for enforcement–and we see the failure of judges to take this responsibility seriously over and over again.

  • The prosecution expert, Dr. Alice Wilson, is a pediatrician, not a pathologist. She appears to be a bit of a professional advocate for findings of child abuse. Forensic pathologists are exposed to a wide variety of similar injuries resulting from widely disparate causes. This doesn’t entirely negate Dr. Newton’s opinion, but when an expert’s specialty is child abuse, it’s not surprising that she finds it