Oh, Baby

Audrey Edmunds is rebuilding her life after her murder conviction was overturned

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Despite Edmunds' release, the prosecution is satisfied she served most of her term (her mandatory release was just one year away). Still, Rusch says, "All the parents wanted was for Audrey to say she was sorry."

And all Team Edmunds wants is for the prosecution to apologize. "They just did not want to admit they were wrong, especially Judge Moeser," says Larson. "There's more information now, so just admit it. But there was no apology, no nothing. It's so frustrating. And it makes me wonder how many people are in prison who shouldn't be."

Which is precisely where the focus is shifting. Courts in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada are re-opening old SBS cases; numerous have been reversed. While U.S. courts aren't at that point yet, Findley says American juries are starting to refuse to convict SBS defendants in light of the new medical research. Even more striking, the Kentucky Supreme Court is currently reviewing whether to conduct a discretionary hearing on an SBS case where a lower court judge granted a defense motion to prevent prosecutors from informing the jury the deceased infant had bleeding on the brain and retinal hemorrhaging because there were no outer signs of abuse. As of press time, the court had not ruled.

"Things are happening slowly, but I think this new understanding will filter into the U.S., and Audrey's case was one step in that direction," says Findley, who was inundated with requests for SBS assistance following Edmunds' release.

No matter what side of the issue experts are on, all agree on one thing: The term "Shaken Baby Syndrome" should no longer be used. Inflicted Traumatic Brain Injury or Abusive Head Trauma are now favored, says Rusch, because the term SBS suggests a manner of death. "But no two babies are killed the exact same way," she says. "ITBI or AHT move away from saying you know exactly what happened, because you don't unless you witnessed it."

Exactly Audrey Edmunds' point.

Melanie Radzicki McManus is a contributing writer for Madison Magazine.

At the request of Jill Karofsky, former Dane County assistant district attorney, we are posting the State's Motion to Dismiss Prosecution as the reader may find it helpful in understanding the various positions in this complicated and controversial case.




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