Middlesex Superior Court reduced the second-degree murder conviction of an Indian American woman Pallavi Macharla, who violently shook an infant to death in the day-care center she was running after no evidence was found that she intended to hurt the child.
Judge Kenneth Fishman said that the delivery of second-degree murder conviction by a jury in May against the 44-year-old Pallavi, a mother of two, was not "consonant with justice".
After presenting a number of medical experts during the four-week trial to ascertain what killed infant Ridhima Dhekane, the judge reduced the murder conviction to involuntary manslaughter.
Pallavi was babysitting the infant in March 2014 in the day-care center she ran in her Burlington home, Boston Globe reported.
“The conflicting findings made it impossible to justify a second-degree murder conviction,” Fishman wrote in the ruling.
"This court cannot permit a verdict of second-degree murder to stand in the presence of such highly contested and inconsistent evidence," Fishman wrote in the 17-page ruling.
According to prosecutors, Pallavi, who was a medical doctor in India turned frustrated when the baby began troubling and shook her so violently her brain bled.
Testifying in her own defense, Pallavi said the baby had vomited soon after she fed her homemade applesauce and then stopped breathing.
(Image source from: bostonglobe.com)
Noting that Pallavi gave the baby mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when the stopped breathing, the judge agreed there was no evidence that Pallavi intended to hurt the child.
"It appears that the defendant had no history of abusive behavior toward children in the past but rather was a patient, considerate, and loving caretaker of children, he wrote.
"There is, however, a child who has tragically died, coupled with evidence of extraordinary internal injuries that some experts would attribute to abusive head trauma in the form of shaking and/or a blow.”
As per new ruling, Pallavi, who was convicted to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years, will likely serve no more than five years. A new sentencing date has been scheduled for September 27.
According to the report, “Involuntary manslaughter carries no minimum mandatory sentence and a maximum sentence of 20 years, but the state's sentencing guidelines call for no more than five years in prison.”
Prosecutors can appeal Fishman's decision to reduce the conviction.
Meghan Kelly, a spokeswoman for Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said: "We are still reviewing the decision.”
By Sowmya Sangam