When it comes to the death of a child, the evidence is often limited. There are rarely any witnesses or murder weapons involved, leaving jury members with little more than the medical examiner's testimony to decide a defendant's fate.
Unfortunately, as ProPublica's A.C. Thompson discovered in his reporting, many forensic pathologists are not board certified and lack even the most basic medical training. Oftentimes, they do not have a strong grasp on child anatomy and attribute death to shaken baby syndrome or other forms of abuse when the symptoms actually point to natural causes. He explains the issue further in his joint investigation with PBS 'Frontline' and NPR and as a guest on KPCC's The Patt Morrison Show, an interview you can listen to below:
Thompson was also a guest on WNYC's The Takeaway where he explained how child death cases can trigger strong emotions from people and lead to an overwhelming need to convict someone, if not anyone. But as medical examiners continue to blur the line between objective science and avenging seemingly unlawful deaths, innocent people are landing behind bars for crimes they didn't commit.
"Children do get abused and killed by adults – that’s the truth and it’s horrible and completely disturbing. The other thing that’s horrible is when people who didn’t do anything wind up in prison for something they didn’t do, there’s nothing worse than that," Thompson said.
Listen to his interview below and read all of Thompson's reporting on the flawed system of death investigation in America. You can also ask Thompson and his fellow 'Child Cases' reporters questions during a live chat on Wednesday, June 29 at 1PM EST.