What happens when a child abuse case is re-tried 15 years later and meanwhile the science has changed to the point where skeptics emerge?
That’s what’s about to happen when Cesar Deanda is tried later this year on a 1995 set of charges of child abuse resulting in death.
In May 1996, a El Paso County jury found Deanda guilty in the death of his then-girlfriend’s 17-month old son Donivan Bader. At the time, the victim’s family launched a public awareness campaign against what become known as shaken baby syndrome.
In September, the Colorado Court of Appeals ordered a new trial, ruling that Deanda’s attorney had a conflict of interest.
During a motions hearing earlier this week, Deanda’s public defenders indicated they intend to raise the issue of whether shaken baby syndrome was mistakenly applied in his case.
In recent years, there has been debate among doctors over the term. Here’s a fairly well-balanced story in the December 2008 edition of Discover magazine that explores the issue.
Also here is an article in the May 2009 edition of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in which a committee of doctors recommended against using the term “Shaken Baby Syndrome” and instead calling it “abusive head trauma.”
How this plays out in Deanda’s trial remains to be seen. Fourth Judicial District Judge Deborah Grohs gave his defense attorneys a Sept. 17 deadline to file their motions and gave prosecutors until Oct. 1 to file their reply.