Lawyers for an Irish nanny accused of killing a baby in the US said medical experts hired by prosecutors have concluded that the child suffered bone fractures weeks before her death when she was not in the nanny’s care.
Aisling Brady McCarthy’s lawyers said in a written motion that prosecutors recently gave them reports from two medical experts — one at Children’s Hospital in Boston and the other at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami.
They found that compression fractures to Rehma Sabir’s spine were inflicted three to four weeks before her death in January 2013.
The motion asks Judge S Jane Haggerty to order prosecutors to give Ms McCarthy’s lawyers any other records and information related to the medical reports on the earlier injuries.
During a pretrial hearing, Ms McCarthy’s lawyer David Meier said the baby was “literally on the other side of the globe”, travelling overseas with her mother during that time and not under the nanny’s care.
Several weeks later, on her first birthday, Rehma was taken to the hospital with severe head injuries. She died two days later.
Prosecutors allege that Ms McCarthy, from Cavan, was the baby’s only caretaker when the fatal injuries were inflicted. Prosecutors did not immediately respond to the claims made by Ms McCarthy’s lawyers.
The judge will hold a hearing on the defence motion, and also consider a request from Ms McCarthy’s lawyers to release her on bail while she awaits her trial, due to begin on April 7.
MaryBeth Long, a spokeswoman for Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, declined to comment on the defence claims regarding the baby’s earlier injuries, but said prosecutors will respond in writing and during the hearing next week.
“This is an important case and it will be tried in court,” Ms Long said.
Ms McCarthy’s lawyers have previously complained that prosecutors presented information about the earlier bone fractures to the grand jury that indicted her, but offered no evidence linking Ms McCarthy to those injuries. Lawyer Melinda Thompson said in September during a hearing that prosecutors put evidence of the bone fractures before the grand jury “to make it seem like my client was abusing this child”.
Prosecutors have said that none of the witnesses who testified before the grand jury expressed an opinion on the cause of the bone fractures.
In the motion, the defence said the state’s own experts have now concluded — a year after Ms McCarthy was charged — that compression fractures to 10 of Rehma’s thoracic vertebral bones were inflicted during a time when the baby was not with the nanny.
The girl’s parents told police that Ms McCarthy had been their nanny for about six months, caring for the baby in their flat in Cambridge, just outside Boston. Ms McCarthy lived in nearby Quincy.
Prosecutors have said that Alice Newton, medical director of the child protection team at Boston Children’s Hospital, diagnosed the girl as a victim of abusive head trauma, which she said includes injuries caused by violent shaking and by striking the head or causing the head to strike another object or surface.
After Ms McCarthy’s arrest, immigration officials said she was in the US illegally after arriving from Ireland in 2002 under a programme that authorised her to stay 90 days.
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