Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Texas Medical Examiner No Longer Stands by Testimony that sent Woman to Death Row

Just weeks before Texas is scheduled to execute Cathy Henderson (pictured) for the murder of a child that she was babysitting, the medical examiner whose testimony helped send her to death row has said he no longer stands by his original opinion that the child's death resulted from an intentional act on Henderson's part.

In light of new scientific evidence showing that Brandon Baugh's death could have resulted from an accidental fall, retired Travis County chief medical examiner Roberto Bayardo has submitted an affidavit to the court stating, "Had the new scientific information been available to me in 1995, I would not have been able to testify the way I did about the degree of force needed to cause Brandon Baugh's head injury. I cannot determine with a reasonable degree of medical certainty whether Brandon Baugh's injuries resulted from an intentional act of an accidental fall."

Since her arrest nearly 13 years ago, Henderson has maintained that Brandon Baugh's death was the result of a tragic accident. She claims that the infant accidentally fell from her arms after she stepped on a toy while spinning him around. During her trial, Bayardo testified that Baugh's injuries could not have resulted from a short distance fall, as Henderson claimed. Now, based on recent studies and biochemical analysis, four experts in the field of forensic pathology have concluded that Bayardo erred in concluding that the injuries sustained by the infant could not have come from a "short distance fall" of four feet or less.

One of the experts, Dr. John Plunkett, stated in an affidavit, "It is impossible for any qualified scientist or physician to conclude, whether to a reasonable degree of medical certainty or beyond a reasonable doubt, that any intentional and deliberate act caused Brandon Baugh's death."

Henderson's execution is scheduled for June 13. She has petitioned the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to stay her execution and review her case based on the new scientific evidence.

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