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The prosecutors asked for more time.

The judge said no. The prosecutors moved to dismiss without prejudice, meaning they could refile later. That explanation was just too much for those now openly challenging Bennett. The state should carefully review Dr. It was not possible for him to evaluate this huge discrepancy among forensic pathologists. It was not possible for him to make a judgment between competing medical examiners.

These were county cases, filed by local prosecutors, not the state. On Nov. We, my husband and myself, both feel that we are a victim of circumstances, probably due to Dr.

As it happened, he was a friend of the baby-sitter Mary Weaver. Now here was her handwritten plea.

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May God bless you. In the courtroom during the Weaver case, Brennecke had found Bennett personable, but also annoying. Brennecke thought that unprofessional. Bennett sounded to him like an advocate, not a medical expert. More than an advocate.

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Bennett, it seemed to Brennecke, truly believed in what he was doing. So much so that he flatly dismissed critics and never wavered from his findings. He invited anyone to review his work. He had piles of supporting literature. He was in the mainstream of medicine. Why, Bennett even felt able to look at the X-ray of a dead child and say how much anger the mother had. That, Brennecke thought, was ridiculous. Stephens was interested; Stephens asked Brennecke to get him the full Lehmer file. He wanted everything: the autopsy report, depositions, slides, photos, police records.

For two weeks, he drew no response, despite a series of follow-up phone calls. Inadvertently, the office explained, all slides and tissue samples from the Lehmer case had been destroyed back in January. Five involved infant deaths. Four of those five were shaken baby homicides. The four shaken baby cases, as it happened, received special treatment: In those, the crime lab destroyed not just tissue samples but all biological materials.

There is no way of knowing what happened. Rick Crowl.

For a while, watching Brennecke duplicate the Lehmer file on the afternoon of April 6, Rick Crowl managed to appear resistant. This is a good conviction, he told his visitor. I sure think this is a shaken baby.

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He sounded open-minded. This custom of his sets him apart from most prosecutors. This Lehmer case had left him even more uncertain than usual.

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It had simmered in his mind ever since the couple went off to prison. That was true, Crowl had to admit. There had been a plea bargain, though. Had he set up pressures that forced the Lehmers to do this? That was surely possible.

I do not believe that any responsible pathologist would certify death as being due to trauma based on the evidence that I have seen to date. Crowl hesitated. He did know Stephens was among the more active, vocal critics of Bennett. It would be so much better, Crowl reasoned, to hear from a neutral expert whom he knew and trusted. Someone who had always told him straight out whether he had a case.

Over the course of 30 years, Jerry Wilson Jones has performed about 5, autopsies for prosecutors in Douglas County and a host of other jurisdictions in Nebraska and southwest Iowa. He is board certified in anatomical, clinical and forensic pathology. His instinct, at all times, is to teach. The much-discussed Duhaime paper questioned whether shaking alone could cause the type of injuries associated with shaken baby syndrome.

That their article is distributed by such a prestigious journal, that it gets promulgated. It muddies the waters. Jones has diagnosed shaken baby deaths eight times. He has researched retinal hemorrhages as a marker for the syndrome. He has made presentations on the subject at international conferences. He believes the diagnosis for shaken baby to be exactly as John Caffey described it. For all these reasons, Jones did not respond warmly when Brennecke called him in September. If anything, he felt disposed against him. Then, one morning in late September, he opened the Lehmer file for the first time.

He read it once, twice, three times.

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Jones saw no evidence of a shaken baby, no evidence of any trauma. Bennett was calling a single cubic centimeter of blood a subdural hemorrhage. That was one-fifth of a teaspoon. Give me a break, Jones thought. That amount could leak as you pop off the skull cap. You pull the cap, you can tear vessels. Bennett described an area of bleeding beneath the skin in the back of the right side of the scalp. Jones studied the photograph taken of that area. It was badly out of focus, but even with a blurry picture, he could see a bleed if there were one.

At best, this photo showed a normal, gray-yellow patch to be partially gray, a little red. Jones lifted up another photo. This one showed small drops of blood on the inside of the skull cap. These also could routinely be collected when you removed the skull.