In October 2003, Julie Baumer brought her 6-week-old nephew to the hospital after she noticed that he was lethargic, fussy, and unwilling to eat.
Baumer had been caring for the baby in her home in Harrison Township, Michigan, because the child’s mother was a drug addict. Baumer was charged with first-degree child abuse after doctors at the hospital performed a CT scan on her nephew and discovered a skull fracture and a large amount of blood.
At trial, two doctors testified for the prosecution. One concluded that the baby had suffered blunt force trauma. The other doctor concluded that the skull fracture was from an older injury, but that the baby was suffering from Shaken Baby Syndrome because of violent shaking by Baumer. There was no other evidence that Baumer abused the baby, or that she was responsible for the injury the child suffered.
Baumer’s defense attorney failed to present any medical testimony to rebut the prosecution witnesses. In September 2005, a jury convicted Baumer of first-degree child abuse, and she was sentenced to 10-to-15 years.
In 2009, the Michigan Innocence Clinic agreed to represent Baumer on appeal. In November 2009, a Macomb County Circuit Court judge overturned Baumer’s conviction because of the ineffectiveness of her defense attorney, and she was released on bond in December 2009.
At Baumer’s second trial in October 2010, her attorneys presented six expert witnesses who testified that the baby was suffering from Venous Sinus Thrombosis, a form of childhood stroke whose effects can be mistaken for those of Shaken Baby Syndrome. A jury acquitted Baumer of all charges.
- Stephanie Denzel