The controversy over British au pair Louise Woodward, who was convicted of manslaughter in the death of an 8-month-old baby in her care, has now become a battle of the experts.
Prosecution experts said the baby, Matthew Eappen, was shaken and slammed into a hard object. Defense experts said the child died of an an old injury. Now, on a report that aired on the CBS News program 60 Minutes Sunday night, a prominent pathologist claims that both sides are wrong, CBS News Legal Correspondent Kristin Jeannette-Meyers reports.
"I think Matthew Eappen died from strangulation," said Dr. Floyd Giles.
Dr. Giles, chief of neuropathology at Children's Hospital Of Los Angeles, reviewed Matthew Eappen's x-rays, CAT scans, brain slides and other medical reports at the request of 60 Minutes.
It was the prosecution's star medical expert who recommended Dr. Gilis to 60 Minutes as an unbiased authority with a stellar reputation.
Dr. Giles said he does not believe that Matthew Eappen died of shaken baby syndrome or of the skull fracture.
"In my estimate make, she (Woodward) was unfairly convicted on that basis," said Giles.
At trial, prosecutors convinced a jury Woodward had shaken a baby and slammed him against a hard object in a fit of rage. The defense argued Matthew Eappen died because an old injury flared up and caused bleeding in his brain, and there was no proof that old injury was caused by Woodward.
Dr. Giles believes both are wrong because of unexplained injuries he detected on the baby's neck.
"I think this child was strangled with someone's thumbs on the neck, on either side of the voice box," said Giles.
He says this abuse could have occurred between 24 And 48 hours before the baby arrived at the hospital. That's very significant, because it's a time period when many people had contact with the baby not just Louise Woodward.
"They were accusing me of something before they had done any investigation. They should have tried to find the truth," said Woodward.
Martha Coakley, who prosecuted Woodward, is outraged By Dr. Giles' suggestions.
"60 Minutes has manufactured a controversy where none really exists," said Coakley.
Dr. Robert Reese, who reviewed medical records for the prosecution, says Dr. Giles' theory is absurd.
"This is the most illogical interpretation of medical information I have heard in over 30 years of clinical medicine," said Reese.
The defense attorney for Woodward, Barry Scheck, says if Dr. Giles is willing to say what he said to 60 Minutes under oath, he wants to take those findings back to court.