A new petition was recently started asking United States District Judge Keith Starrett to grant Jeffrey Havard a new trial. Jeffrey was wrongfully convicted in 2002 of murder by shaken baby syndrome and sexual molestation of six-month old Chloe Britt. He was sentenced to death by the State of Mississippi.
Jeffrey gave his girlfriend’s 6-month-old daughter Chloe a bath. While removing Chloe from the tub she slipped out of Jeffrey’s hands allowing her head to strike the toilet next to the tub. Jeffrey thought Chloe was okay and he put her to bed. When checked on later Chloe was found turning blue leading Jeffrey and his girlfriend to take her to the ER. Chloe later died that night at the hospital. Jeffrey is devastated that Chloe received a fatal injury while in his care, but it was an accident and not an intentional act.
Jeffrey’s conviction was based on the testimony of an un-certified pathologist named Dr. Steven Hayne and the sexual molestation speculation of emergency room staff that testified the infant’s dilated anus indicated sexual abuse. Jeffrey was denied independent experts to counter their claims and was found guilty in a trial that took less than two days.
Since the time of Jeffrey’s trial, Dr. Hayne has been discredited for submitting faulty work on multiple cases and is now banned from performing autopsies in the State of Mississippi. Dr. Hayne later re-examined the case and has now stated in a signed declaration that evidence was not sufficient to conclude that a sexual assault occurred.
1. Anal dilation has given rise to suspicion of sexual abuse in other cases, and a clinical study was done to clarify the subject. Researchers found that anal dilation is a common artifact in accidental deaths involving severe brain injury.
2. Two forensic pathologists (Dr. Michael Baden as well as Alabama state medical examiner Dr. James Lauridson) have looked at the medical report and have concluded the infant’s death was accidental.
3. Dr. Hayne has a bad reputation. He is discussed in a recent PBS Frontline episode about problems with forensic evidence and testimony: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/real-csi/
4. Earlier this year, the Mississippi Supreme Court denied Jeffrey’s motion for post-conviction relief. The ruling was based on procedure, not facts. His next step is a federal appeal. If he loses that, he faces execution.
The truth is Chloe’s death was a tragic accident, not a murder. Jeffrey accidentally dropped Chloe after giving her a bath. All credible evidence supports his claims. Jeffrey Havard must be granted a new trial so he can be provided the opportunity to prove his innocence.
Please visit www.injustice-anywhere.org to learn more about Jeffrey’s case.