October 20, 2014
A federal appeals court that last year overturned the conviction of a woman accused of shaking her grandson to death has upheld its decision.
Shirley Ree Smith was convicted in December 1997 and was sentenced to 15 years to life at a women's state prison in Chowchilla.
During her trial, experts for both sides gave conflicting testimony about the 7-week-old boy dying from being shaken, from sudden infant death syndrome or from an old brain injury that re-bled.
After reviewing that evidence, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided that shaken baby syndrome "was wholly unsupported by the physical evidence" and overturned Smith's conviction.
The state appealed, sending the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which urged the federal appeals court to review the case again.
On Tuesday, it reaffirmed its decision.