A State's Theory at War With Itself, and a Snitch

At trial, even the State's experts couldn't agree as to manner of of Gracelynn's death.


The pathologist who conducted the autopsy, Dr. Charles Garrison, believed that Gracelynn died as a result of blunt force trauma. He cited the very small bruise on her head as evidence of this and that loss of consciousness would have been immediate. No one testified that the babysitter saw a "knot" earlier in the day, which may have explained the bruising.

Dr. Garrison also saw blood clots, but left that out of his report.

The State retained Dr. Lucy Rorke-Adams to shore up its case, and the theory of prosecution changed.

Dr. Rorke-Adams disagreed with the State's pathologist and did not believe that the bruise was evidence of abusive trauma that caused the death. Instead, she testified that Jeff violently shook or battered Gracelynn before propping her up on pillows.

According to Dr. Rorke-Adams, Gracelynn then lost consciousness, slumped over, and asphyxiated.

Yet another expert for the State - a "child abuse pediatrician" - claimed that this was a straightforward shaken baby case. He seemed to disagree with Dr. Rorke-Adams's suffocation theory and Dr. Garrison's blunt force trauma theory.

All of the State's experts relied extensively the theory of Abusive Head Trauma/Shaken Baby Syndrome to reach their conclusions.

To bolster its weak scientific case, the State presented the testimony of a notorious jailhouse informant, who  testified that Jeff confessed to him.

Though he would claim otherwise, the inmate received favorable treatment in exchange for his testimony.

Jeff had two experts testify in his defense, but it wasn't enough.

They were in agreement that there were old and new subdural hemorrhages, and a venous thrombosis, or blood clot, in the child's brain. That clotting was consistent with what the State's pathologist saw at autopsy but left out of his report.

This was evidence of a slowly evolving process that resulted in her collapse and death.

It also lined up of the babysitter's description of a seizure at her house earlier in the day. 

What's more, the hospital misplaced a breathing tube and Gracelynn's oxygen levels dropped to deadly levels for several hours, which could have caused some of the medical findings and even her death. But the jury never heard about that because neither the prosecution or the defense provided the evidence.

The jury found Jeff guilty in April of 2013.

He has now served over seven years in prison for a crime that he did not commit.