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Medill Justice Project Raises Questions on Murder Conviction

Letter discovered by undergraduates results in innocence hearing

EVANSTON, Ill. --- At a hearing in a federal court last week, a nearly 10-year-old letter discovered by students working with Northwestern University’s Medill Justice Project raised questions about the conviction of a Chicago-area day care worker serving 20 years for the death of an infant in her care.

In that 2003 letter, a key police detective said the forensic pathologist conducting the infant’s autopsy questioned whether the day care worker had violently shaken the baby in what is known as “shaken-baby syndrome” or abusive head trauma. The hearing judge heard both from the letter’s author and the pathologist. 

The Medill Justice Project is creating the nation’s first shaken-baby criminal database available to the public. A project of the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, it examines potentially wrongful convictions, probes national systemic criminal justice issues and conducts groundbreaking research.

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