Pamela Jacobazzi, from the Chicago area, has served thirteen years in prison for killing an infant. But her supporters say a diagnosis that shaking the baby caused its death was wrong. Others are speaking out.
Michelle Weidner is a mother from Peoria. She was accused of harming her son after a CAT scan diagnosed him with a skull fracture. Weidner was put under surveillance and was the subject of a criminal investigation. It turns out there was no fracture … the child had simply moved during the scan. But that was only determined after Weidener and her husband got a second opinion.
WEIDNER: “The sad thing is, if we didn’t have the insurance and the family and friends support that we have and the education that we have, we would not have made it through this, we would have lost our children to the foster care system.”
Weidner says she believes Pamela Jacobazzi is also innocent. The Bartlett woman had operated a home day care, but when a child she cared for died, she was convicted based on the diagnosis of Shaken Baby Syndrome. The Illinois Innocence Project, a non profit that works to exonerate the wrongly convicted, has taken on her case and is asking the Governor to grant clemency. Bill Clutter is an investigator who works with the Illinois Innocence Project. He says too often Shaken Baby Syndrome is diagnosed wrongly and believes this is an example.
CLUTTER: “She’s the sweetest person you’ll ever meet, and to this day she’s maintained her innocence. And she has an incredible network of friends, family, and church members who support her.”
Clutter says evidence shows Jacobazzi is not to blame for the death, but instead a pre-existing condition the infant had. He says nationally, Innocence Projects are making an effort to take on cases where they feel people have been wrongly convicted of harming children.