A Case to Watch: Brian Peixoto is represented by the CPCS Innocence Program – a Massachusetts program funded by the U.S. Department of Justice to represent innocent people.
The purpose of the CPCS Innocence Program is to get exonerations for indigent Massachusetts state defendants who are actually innocent of the crimes of which they have been convicted.
In Brian’s case, there are many issues of concern:
- the unchallenged medical evidence including the cookie-cutter testimony of state experts and missing evidence;
- the unrecorded police interrogations;
- the uninvestigated history of the mother with regard to the child’s medical history and complaints of neglect by the (then) Department of Social Services;
- and ineffective legal representation both at trial and on appeal.
In 1997, Brian was wrongly convicted of murder for the death of 3-year old Christopher Affonso. There was no physical evidence against Brian. His conviction was based on testimony of two state experts, neither of whom possessed proper board certification.
Of great concern are the major changes in pediatric forensic science. You can read about that here. Remember the Shaken Baby Syndrome that we were introduced to in the trial of Louise Woodward in 1997? A lot has changed since then. We have a better understanding of what SBS means. Check this description by the American Academy of Pediatrics. I quote (accents are mine):
“Shaken baby syndrome is a serious form of child maltreatment most often involving children younger than 2 years but may be seen in children up to 5 years old. It occurs commonly, yet may be misdiagnosed in its most subtle form and underdiagnosed in its most serious form.
Caretakers may misrepresent or claim to have no knowledge of the cause of the brain injury.
Caretakers who are not responsible for the injuries may not know how they occurred.
Externally visible injuries are often absent. Given possible difficulties in initially identifying an infant as having been abusively shaken and the variability of the syndrome itself, physicians must be extremely vigilant when dealing with any brain trauma in infants and be familiar with radiologic and clinical findings that support the diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome.”
If you are interested in pediatric forensics, this is a case to watch. Brian’s family and friends have started a petition in support of Brian. You can find that petition here.