Lawyers argue for new trial in 1994 Bartlett day care death case

September 16, 2013 4:53:48 PM PDT
Supporters of a former day care operator say Pamela Jacobazzi, who was convicted back in 1994 of shaking a baby to death, deserves a new trial.

Lawyers for the Innocence Project have taken up her case. They believe the baby died from pre-existing conditions. A hearing was held in DuPage County on Monday.

Pamela Jacobazzi is serving a 32-year sentence for first degree murder of a child at her Bartlett day care center in the '90s. The baby died after what a jury determined was shaken baby syndrome.

Jacobazzi was granted a hearing to determine if medical records omitted from the original trial may shed new light on the possible cause of death.

On Monday, Jacobazzi's attorney argued for a new trial, that the record tells us the baby had pre-existing conditions that may have resulted in the fatal brain bleeding.

"That mistake is absolutely critical," said Anthony Sassan, attorney. "The jury did not hear evidence in this case. The jury did not hear the most important evidence in this case."

The first witness called by Jacobazzi's defense team was forensic expert Dr. John Plunkett. He is working for free on this case and testified that many factors can lead the the type of bleeding from which the baby ultimately died.

"This bleed began at least three days before on August 8th or much earlier. This did not begin on August 11," said Dr. John Plunkett, witness for the defense.

DuPage County prosecutor Joe Ruggiero argues that the records were available and that Jacobazzi, "The defendant got a fair and constitutionally defended trial."

If a new trial is granted this could have implications for others convicted of using shaken baby syndrome.

"If we're granted a new trial, it will be a completely different trial than it was before," said Erica Nichols Cook, IL Innocence Project.

In 1994, Baby Matthew was 10 months old when he started bleeding and having seizures at the Jacobazzi's daycare. He never regained consciousness and died more than year later. His mother was not in court Monday but may testify.

The hearing is expected to last the rest of the week.


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