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Julie Baumer

Other Shaken Baby Syndrome Cases
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.

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is a term coined to describe a condition first articulated in 1971. SBS is said to arise when an infant is shaken so hard that the brain rotates inside the skull, causing severe and potentially deadly brain injury, but often without any external signs of harm. SBS is said to involve a telltale “triad” of symptoms—brain swelling, brain hemorrhaging, and retinal hemorrhaging. When present in an infant who has no outward signs of abuse, this triad of symptoms indicates that the child has been violently shaken. According to prevailing medical wisdom at the time of the incident, no other injuries or pathologies could cause these three symptoms to occur at the same time. Moreover, it was thought that a victim of SBS became unresponsive immediately, and therefore the last person to have physical care of the baby must have caused the injuries.  
The defense presented testimony from a pediatric forensic pathologist who disagreed with the opinions of the prosecution doctors regarding timing and suggested that it was possible the victim had sustained the trauma during birth.  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. Baumer filed for compensation from the state of Michigan and in 2019, she was awarded $204,389.
- Stephanie Denzel

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 2/27/2020
Most Serious Crime:Child Abuse
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2003
Sentence:10 to 15 years
Age at the date of reported crime:27
Contributing Factors:False or Misleading Forensic Evidence, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No