California Shaken Baby Conviction Set Aside After 15 Years

Adding to the increasing numbers of exonerations in “shaken baby” cases, the New York Times reports Zavion Johnson may be released:

A California man is set to walk out of prison after 15 years, after a judge on Friday set aside his life sentence for shaking his 4-month-old daughter to death in 2001.


At least 14 people nationwide had already been exonerated since 2011 in shaken baby cases, attorneys said, citing the National Registry of Exonerations. Northwestern University’s Medill Justice Project said in 2015 that there were more than 3,000 shaken baby syndrome cases nationwide, though attorneys said it’s not clear how many might have resulted in wrongful convictions.

The prosecution typically rely on medical testimony to prove these cases. They allege a certain triad of symptoms cannot occur accidentally or in absence of intentional shaken force. Defending their acquiescence to the judgment being set aside, Johnson’s prosecutors stated:

“Research and scientific studies conducted after the date of Zavion Johnson’s trial have altered the opinions of the prosecution experts,” Sacramento County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Grippi said in a statement.

There is a newly released documentary which highlights these prosecutions and the increasing doubt:

And lastly, here is another story of a lady adopting her nephew when she was convicted of murder:

Baumer was able to get her case retried and several expert witnesses were brought in to testify on her behalf. They filed for a 6500 motion which would introduce new evidence that Baumer’s nephew had not suffered from shaken baby syndrome, as originally believed, but rather Cerebral Sinovenous Thrombosis, a form of childhood stroke which had caused the brain hemorage. This process took three years to go through the court system and it wasn’t until Oct. 2010 that the jury finally came to a verdict. . .

Her case demonstrates what can go wrong in the American legal system when pride and ego get in the way of what is right and just. In her second trial, Baumer’s defense lawyer testified that he hadn’t been knowledgeable enough about the medical aspects of her case to provide her with an adequate defense, just one of the many factors that led to her wrongful conviction and imprisonment.

When it was all said and done, Baumer served almost five years of her 10-15 year sentence.