When a child dies, emotions rule. Brian Peixoto’s case is yet another wrongful conviction made by misdiagnosis of a child’s head trauma in a mass of convictions made on junk science and SBS.
Brian had only dated Ami Sneed off and on for three months when her electricity was turned off for non-payment. He agreed to let her and her two children Christopher, age 3, and Tarissa, age 4 stay at his place for a time until her electricity and heat were restored. On the evening of January 22, 1996 Tarissa and Christopher were in the finished basement of the house, while Brian and Ami were upstairs. Tarissa screamed out that Christopher was vomiting and Brian and Ami went downstairs together where they found Christopher violently convulsing, vomiting and having seizures. Brian first tried CPR and then they rushed Christopher to a paramedic station. Christopher was transferred to a hospital where he did not survive.
Both Brian and Ami originally explained the sequence of events the same basic way. That changed after the autopsy report. The MA State Medical Examiner Dr. James Weiner concluded that the head injury had to have been inflicted at or about the time of death; that it could not have been accidental; that it would have rendered Christopher unconscious or comatose immediately; and that the injury was not survivable. As a result, the police determined that it had to be Brian and/or Ami who were responsible because they were the only adults alone with him. After intense police interviewing Ami adjusted her story approximately six times. She stated since it wasn’t her, it must be Brian and changed her story to Brian being downstairs alone with Christopher before Tarissa started yelling for help. The police then charged Brian with first degree murder. At trial Dr. Eli Newberger added opinion that Christopher was the victim of child abuse over at least the last 72 hours of his life, though he was not a pathologist. On the testimonies of Dr. Weiner, Dr. Newberer and the changed story of Ami Sneed, Brian was convicted.
Time however has changed the current research on child brain injuries; as featured on the Frontline episode: The Child Cases. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/the-child-cases/
It is now widely accepted by pathologists that a small child can indeed suffer a traumatic brain injury with intracranial bleeding from a short fall and have prolonged intervals of lucidity. There is currently an epidemic of wrongful convictions based on misdiagnosis of child head traumas and SBS.
A pathologist from the Frontline episode, Dr. Michael Laposata, took a look at the Brian’s case. Dr. Laposata expressed great concern as to the validity of the opinions of the state’s medical experts. He stated he believed that the opinions of Dr. Weiner and Dr. Newberger on how the fatal injuries occurred, the age of the injuries, and whether the child would have died immediately after sustaining the injuries were in error. Along with Dr. Laposata; Dr. Waney Squier, Dr. Zhongxue Hua, Dr. Chris Van EE, Dr. John Plunkett and Dr. Patrick D. Barnes have all added their voices in support of Brian Peixoto. http://brianpeixoto.com/new-evidence/diagnoses/
The conviction of Brian Peixoto was based solely on the expert testimony given at that time. Now that knowledge of child head injuries has advanced and new more prestigious experts support Brian’s case does it come down to the battle of old vs. new expert testimony?
That would appear to be the case at first glance, but while there is absolutely zero evidence that Brian Peixoto ever abused Christopher or had any prior trouble with the law, there is, however, ample evidence that a fall 10 days prior to the death was actually to blame, along with Ami Sneed’s failure to actively monitor and act on Christopher’s condition in the days following the fall.
Ten days prior to Christopher’s death on January 12, 1996 he had a severe fall down the stairs at Ami’s mother’s home. Brian was not present at that time. Christopher suffered a broken collar bone and a contusion on his forehead. Ami was advised by the ER doctor to monitor Christopher and bring him back if he showed any signs of head injury. Ami admitted that in the days following the fall Christopher acted at times wobbly, lethargic and ‘drunk’. On the very day of his death Ami had held Christopher home from daycare and scheduled an appointment with a pediatrician due to his worsening symptoms. Ami failed to bring Christopher to his appointment that day, and that failure ended in his tragic death that evening. Read more concerns about the fall down the stairs and Ami Sneed: http://brianpeixoto.com/issues-of-concern/
Dr. Laposata states “it is my opinion that this child fell down a staircase, and that this fall was associated with a fracture of his clavicle and multiple fractures to his skull and bleeding inside the head. Because he survived the fall, he lived for 10 days experiencing neurological problems that could be accounted for by progressive subdural hematomas occurring after the fall that subsequently then caused the death of the child.”
Discounting outdated expert testimony given during trial that the injury had to have occurred close to death, it becomes clear that the fall down the stairs 10 days earlier was actually to blame and Brian Peixoto is factually innocent of the charges against him. Brian now faces the brutal US appeals system that actively prevents cases from having a true and fair review. His requests have been continuously denied.
The Innocence organization Injustice Anywhere endorses this case as one of actual innocence and advocates for his exoneration. Please throw your support behind this worthy case and family.