When I first read about poor baby Enzo, a 3 month old who had suffered blunt trauma and died, apparently at the hands of his father I was shocked and angered and saddened like I’m sure most people would be. Afterall, this man allegedly killed an infant!
Then coincidentally I found this article over at Metafilter. It advertised a propublica story about people being accused of murdering children when in fact the evidence on further review showed that there were either other injuries or illnesses that led to the trauma and death, or that there were other people responsible for the murders than the alleged perps.
The issue seems to be that all dead people aren’t alike. Dead babies, which we hate to even think about, are literally a breed apart. They need specialized autopsies done by certified experts in infant trauma and death. Since it is generally true that no one sees babies die- and all we have is medical evidence and the evidence handed in by officers that are often dealing with an upset and frightened adult- the allegations are sometimes all that is required to lay blame solely on that individual. The Medical Examiners then may seem to work for the police rather than for the “decedent”.
It is horrific to imagine a poor sick little baby being knocked around because he was sick…but take a second and think about it- in the article we were told the baby vomitted, those of us who have been around babies aren’t shocked to hear that a tiny baby tosses the last of their bottle..but .that isn’t exactly the story that the father is telling. He has to go into the bathroom to clean up after the babies vomitting. The police have gathered the story, the police are building a case. They are saying that while the father was in the bathroom he struck the child against the counter because he was angry. But can we be sure that is what the father said?
It may not have been a simple spit up. This baby may have already been traumatized, or may have already been seriously sick. After reading the article over at propublica I worry that that might be an important bit of evidence!http://www.propublica.org/article/the-hardest-cases-when-children-die-justice-can-be-elusive
I’m not an apologist for baby killers! If a person is heinous enough to kill an infant then I say they deserve a life in prison-but let’s make sure we get the right person and let’s not blame and jail just last person who was with the baby because it’s convenient and let’s be honest… how much time and money do you want to spend on finding out what really happened to that baby?! I don’t think we mean to be callous or cold. I think we just have learned to make what we think are natural assumptions.
What if we are wrong?