CBS 48 Hours Explores Prosecutions for Child Brain Injuries

The CBS program 48 Hours has explored the murder conviction of Melissa Calusinski.

Calusinski at first denied mistreating the toddler in her care but, after hours of interrogation, confessed and demonstrated how she’d thrown the boy to the floor in frustration. Medical evidence, though, has raised doubts that he could have been injured that way. An earlier injury to the boy’s brain may instead have led to his death.

The show also featured Deborah Tuerkheimer, a Northwestern University law professor who has found rampant injustice in prosecutions based on “shaken baby syndrome,” as its proponents call it.

Such prosecutions occur frequently in Washington state. Last fall a jury in Tacoma could not agree whether Jeremy Yerger had violently shaken his infant son. In the trial in Pierce County Superior Court, a doctor from Seattle Children’s Hospital opined that the boy’s injuries could not have been accidental, but doctors testifying for Yerger said they could have been.