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Jesse Vinaccia

Convicted of child homicide. 8.5 year prison sentence.


Did he violently shake to death 17-week old baby boy Kaleb, the son of his then girlfriend ?

The Crime

Vinaccia was convicted of shaking to death four month baby boy Kaleb, son of his then girlfriend.

The Evidence

No witness.

No external injuries indicative of violence or abuse.

Baby with a long medical history, dating back to pre-birth complications and including severe swelling of the brain, fluid on the brain and a head circumference that rapidly grew to the 97th percentile. 

These problems had resulted in a three day stay in hospital, with the infant having high inter cranial pressure and haemorrhages. He was in the care of his mother when the symptoms for this hospitalisation occurred. He was released from hospital and a few days later collapsed with more severe haemorrhaging that resulted in death. This time he was in the care of Jesse Vinaccia. 

Just like in the Joby Rowe case, doctors testified that the brain injuries suffered by baby Kaleb could only have been caused by shaking. As Vinaccia was the last person taking care of him, they automatically concluded that he must have shaken him.

The Problem with the Conviction: there is NO science linking those brain injuries to shaking. The link between specific brain injuries and shaking is an unsubstantiated belief that is common amongst a section of the medical community. 

 

I published a peer reviewed article Is there an evidentiary basis for shaken baby syndrome? The case of Joby Rowe in the Australian Journal of Forensic Science. the same issues riddle the case against Jesse Vinaccia.

My paper points to the total lack of any scientific or evidentiary basis for linking the brain injuries suffered by babies such as Kaleb to shaking, or to any form of abuse.  

Again I ask, should we be convicting people on the basis of unsubstantiated beliefs? 

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