Tuesday 20 February 2018

Irish nanny murder case: baby's parents have tests

Legal process: Aisling Brady McCarthy has been charged with murder in the US
Legal process: Aisling Brady McCarthy has been charged with murder in the US
Aisling’s defence attorney Melinda Thompson

Brian Byrne in Boston

A one-year-old child, alleged to have been killed by an Irish nanny in the United States, did not have a pre-existing medical condition which might have led to her death, court documents seen by the Sunday Independent suggest.

Aisling Brady McCarthy (36) has been charged with murder over the death of Rehma Sabir on January 16, 2013, two days after the child was found unresponsive in the family home in Cambridge, outside Boston.

The Co Cavan woman, who has been living in the US since 2002, denies assaulting the child on January 14, 2013, and is on bail but under house arrest.

As part of the legal process, the mother and father of baby Rehma agreed to a medical examination to see whether they carried such a pre-existing medical or genetic condition which may have been passed on to the child, it has emerged.

It was hoped that a fresh review of evidence by the Massachusetts state medical examiner's office would lead to a lowering of the first-degree murder charge against Ms McCarthy, after a similar review in a separate case in the US led to a father being acquitted of the murder of his six-month-old son.

Court documents accessed by the Sunday Independent show that baby Rehma's mother and father, named only as N Siddiqui and S Sabir, underwent platelet examinations at the Boston Children's Hospital on April 23. The documents, submitted by assistant district attorney general, Patrick G Fitzgerald, state: "The parents of Rehma Sabir submitted to platelet aggregations studies at Boston Children's Hospital (BCH). Dr Ellis Neufeld has reviewed the test results and reports the results for both parents were normal."

Mr Fitzgerald adds that while there was a possibility that a platelet disorder in the paternal grandmother "might have been inherited and might have been an issue for Rehma, there is no evidence of the same in the father".

Ms McCarthy's defence attorney, Melinda Thompson, did not respond when contacted by the Sunday Independent for comment. The documents and their findings could reduce hopes that Ms McCarthy's charge will be changed to a lower level murder charge, manslaughter, or even result in an acquittal.

Last September, in a separate case before the US courts, the Massachusetts state medical examiner's office revised its finding on the manner of death from homicide to "could not be determined" in the murder trial of Massachusetts Institute of Technology worker Geoffrey Wilson (36).

The ruling led prosecutors to drop their case against Mr Wilson, who had been accused of killing his six-month-old son in Malden, Massachusetts in 2010. It emerged at the Middlesex County Superior Court in Woburn last week that Ms McCarthy will spend at least six months under house arrest, after the trial commencement date was set for October 13.

Judge Maureen B Hogan said the date was being pushed back due to scheduling conflicts during the summer months among witnesses and jury members. A representative of the state medical examiner's office was not present to provide an update on its review into medical evidence, but Judge Hogan requested it present its findings by June 9.

Mr Fitzgerald said the prosecution's case which would consist of at least 50 witnesses, would take between four and six weeks and would begin each day at 9am and conclude by lunchtime.

Ms Thompson said she intended to call several medical experts to the stand in the court, situated some 30 minutes outside of Boston, but that due to scheduling conflicts and summer holidays, many would not be available until the autumn.

Ms Thompson added that the defence case would last between one and one-and-a-half weeks, meaning the full trial could last up to two months.

Judge Hogan set the trial commencement date for Tuesday, October 13, but said that this was subject to change.

Ms McCarthy had been imprisoned in Massachusetts for almost two-and-a-half years before she was granted bail earlier this month.

Ms Thompson successfully argued for bail after providing reports from nine medical experts which claimed the baby was not in fact murdered, and had sustained previous injuries at a time when it was not under McCarthy's care. The reports led the state medical examiner's office to launch a fresh review into all evidence in the case. Under conditions set by the court, Ms McCarthy must remain under house arrest at all times and wear a GPS tracking device.

Sunday Independent

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