Tuesday, September 26, 2023
On February 15, 2022, I filed a Request for Review with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Conviction Review Unit on behalf of Michelle Heale. Here was the Introduction to that Request:
On April 17, 2015, Michelle Heale was convicted of aggravated manslaughter and child endangerment based on the death of fourteen-month old Mason Hess, whom she had been babysitting. Michelle Heale is actually innocent of these crimes and would have been acquitted at trial if not for an error by her trial counsel in failing to present testimony and a report by the leading expert who could have proven her defense. Moreover, new evidence calling into question the use of the traditional triad of symptoms to diagnose Shaken Baby Syndrome – a diagnosis of exclusion, not inclusion – supports a finding of actual innocence. Indeed, this new evidence has led a New Jersey court to conclude that the evidence used to convict Ms. Heale is insufficiently reliable to even be admissible at trial.
In April 2022, I filed a First Supplement to that Request. I have now filed a Second Supplement (Download Heale Second Supplement) to the CRU based upon the recent opinion of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Devision finding that the theory of Shaken Baby Syndrome without impact has never been proven through biomechanical testing and fails to satisfy the Frye test for admissibility of expert evidence. This opinion was based largely upon testimony by Dr. Chris Van Ee, who was contacted by Heale's trial attorney and prepared a draft report in her defense, but who was ignored by Heale's trial attorney after Dr. Van Ee let him know he had written the report. It is my hope that this new opinion leads to Heale being fully exonerated.