Judge Maureen Hogan, the Boston judge in the murder case against Irish nanny Aisling Brady McCarthy, has demanded that an attorney for the Massachusetts Medical Examiner’s Office appear before her to explain why she has not yet received the autopsy review in the death of one year old Rehma Sabir.
Judge Hogan had demanded a review after new questions arose about the original findings
Defense attorneys believe the review could clear their client of the murder charge that followed the death of 12-month-old Rehma Sabir at her family’s home in Cambridge near Boston on January 14, 2013.
The Cavan-born Brady McCarthy (37), who is undocumented, is out on bail. She was embraced by friends and her lawyers when the news came that the judge was demanding an attorney for the Medical Examiner's Office explain their conduct.
Defense lawyers have held that the baby was unwell from birth and may have been seriously injured in assaults weeks before she died when the child was abroad and Brady McCarthy was not in charge of her.
“We’re hopeful” Brady McCarthy’s attorney, Melinda Thompson, told The Irish Times after being asked whether she believed the long delay meant there was a problem with the original autopsy.
Thompson has lined up over a dozen leading medical experts who are prepared to testify that Brady McCarthy did not inflict blows or shake the baby, which prosecution lawyers say, caused her death.
The Boston Globe reports that Brady McCarthy’s lawyers will present evidence that little Rehma was “sick much of her life and suffered from a bleeding disorder, failure to gain weight, and had gastrointestinal problems. At the time of her death, tests revealed several healing fractures that were several weeks old, from a time when she was traveling with her family overseas.”
Law Professor Deborah Tuerkheimer, an expert on mistaken shaken baby verdicts, says Rehma’s medical issues fit the classic profile.
“In so many cases, the parents have been in the hospital off and on, and there’s just never been a decent explanation,” Tuerkheimer said. “You just have all these signs that it’s a sick baby.”
“It’s apparent the baby was not well when it was delivered to the caregiver,” she said. “It’s not only shaking that causes this; you have to rule other things out. Many, if not most, of these cases seem to be naturally caused.”
Lawyers for Brady McCarthy say the case fits the discredited shaken baby syndrome hypothesis. “This is a shaken baby syndrome prosecution,” they wrote. “That means it is a prosecution based on a scientific hypothesis that has crumbled over the last decade.”
The judge’s move is seen as highly significant and she has given the Medical Examiner's office a narrow time frame to appear before her.