Even with so many reforms, it's not clear justice was done in the case of Mauricio Jr.

Perez and Ramos' court-appointed attorneys — each parent was assigned separate legal representation — were unable to convince the state that the couple had not harmed their son. 

It didn't matter that Ramos and Perez passed police-administered polygraph exams and weren't charged with any crime. Or that psychological evaluations of each revealed no mental illness, or that police records showed no history of domestic violence or drug use. There were no signs of abuse — healed fractures, old bruises — on either child. No one cared, apparently, that Ramos and Perez completed all court-ordered parenting programs and counseling sessions.

Ramos still has this bag full of her children's toys.
Jamie Peachey
Ramos still has this bag full of her children's toys.
Perez and Ramos in Ramos' apartment in East Phoenix.
Jamie Peachey
Perez and Ramos in Ramos' apartment in East Phoenix.

The couple the loss of their children contested to the state Court of Appeals. They lost. They tried to push their case to the Arizona Supreme Court, but the court declined to hear it.

This is surprising, because though it is obvious that those who sought to keep the parents and children apart were convinced Mauricio Jr.'s case is one of shaken baby syndrome, it's not so obvious that it actually is. In recent years, members of the medical community have begun to doubt that symptoms such as those seen in this case always result from shaking, as opposed to, for example, an accidental fall from a bed about two feet off the ground.

Neither the courts, social workers, nor the pediatricians gave meaningful weight to the controversy surrounding shaken baby syndrome, even though doubt about the diagnosis has moved appellate courts to overturn child abuse and murder convictions in similar cases in Arizona and across the country. 

The account in this story is the result of a several-month investigation, based on New Times' review of more than a thousand pages of police, medical, and court records (some obtained by Ramos through public-records requests); dozens of studies supporting and refuting abusive head trauma; and in-depth interviews with Ramos, Perez, and medical and legal professionals. CPS officials declined comment.

Questions about the longstanding assumptions regarding shaken baby syndrome have been raised even by Dr. Norman Guthkelch, the British pediatric neurosurgeon who authored a report in 1971 that linked unexplained brain injuries in infants to shaking. 

New Times tried repeatedly to reach 97-year-old Guthkelch to ask him to review Mauricio Jr.'s case. The retired doctor lived in Tucson for several years but moved to the Chicago suburb of Evanston shortly after his wife died in 2011. He now lives in a retirement home. New Times unsuccessfully reached out to him through family members and the fellows at Northwestern University's Medill Innocence Project, one of the many organizations that sought out Guthkelch to review shaken baby syndrome cases they were examining.

But during several media interviews, including one with National Public Radio, and in a four-page "swan song" written in November 2012 on the subject — linked on the website of one of the many innocence projects that have taken on SBS — Guthkelch made clear his concerns about how the medical and legal communities commandeered his decades-old research paper into a blueprint for proving child abuse. 

In his final reflection, the near-centenarian wrote that there have been instances in which "both medical science and the law have gone too far in criminalizing alleged acts of violence" when the only proof of violence was the child's clinical state.

"For me, the triad may legitimately be classified as a syndrome," he wrote. "But it is not necessarily the result of shaking or abusive behavior."


The medical and scientific underpinnings of shaken baby syndrome actually have nothing to do with babies. The discovery dates back more than four decades to studies using monkeys to determine whether whiplash could cause brain damage.

In 1969, Ayub K. Ommaya, a prominent neurosurgeon at the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Blindness in Bethesda, Maryland, conducted, along with others, experiments on monkeys to observe the effects of simulated rear-end collisions on the brain and neck. His study determined, among other things, that brain injuries occurred even when the monkey's head didn't strike anything. 

In the early 1970s, Guthkelch was one of two pediatric specialists who independently cited that study as evidence for a new medical theory — that violent shaking without impact could cause brain damage in infants. 

"One must keep in mind the possibility of assault in considering any case of infantile subdural hematoma, even when there are only trivial bruises or indeed no marks of injury at all," he wrote in his 1971 research paper. He said there should be an inquiry as to "whether perhaps the baby's head could have been shaken." 

Despite the contention that now surrounds that diagnosis, it was an important finding, because in those days, particularly in northern England where Guthkelch practiced, shaking was a socially acceptable form of "correction" for unruly or rambunctious children.

Guthkelch's work raised awareness among parents and guardians who had not realized the potential damage they could cause with an otherwise stern, even violent, jostle to snap a child into attention. 

Shaking a baby is much more serious than shaking an adult, medical professionals say. The National Institute of Health explains on its website that when an infant or toddler is shaken, the brain bounces back and forth against the skull. It can bruise the brain or create swelling, pressure, or bleeding. Or the large veins outside the brain may tear, leading to further bleeding, swelling, and increased pressure. The shaking also can injure the eyes, neck, or spine.The medical theory is that an injury like Mauricio Jr.'s occurs when a parent or caregiver — trying to quiet or punish a child — grips its torso and violently shakes it with the same force a child would endure in a fall from several stories. Sometimes, the injury is exacerbated when the shaken baby's head strikes another object — a wall, the floor, or even something as soft as a mattress. 

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26 comments
urineorurout
urineorurout

It blows my mind that more people aren't bothered by this kind of shit. The apathy could only be worse if it were due (even in part) to the citizenship status of the parents featured in this article. Maybe a Kardashian angle should be worked in to every hard hitting news story.        

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

Fucking CPS, what a bunch of duchebags they are and the family courts are not any better.

None of them care about the truth, only a conviction is all that mattered in this case.

CPS needs some serious house cleaning.

dstroebel
dstroebel

All evidence points to innocence. Could what we are reading is a person in the clutches of the prison industrial complex? Google it and learn more why seemingly innocent people are sent to prison. Some judges receive as much as $30,000 for a single conviction. The US has a 99 percent prosecution rate while other countries trail far behind. Why?

ewthorne
ewthorne

I am curious as to what ethnic groups the children who taken away for good were.  Is there a breakdown of each group?

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

Nice reporting and writing.  This is exactly what I'd love to see more of from PNT

Pakrat4ever
Pakrat4ever

For years CPS has be rightly criticized for not taking appropriate steps to protect childen and they have ended up Dead; so now maybe they are going overboard to protect themselves. There seems to be a very thin line between abuse and accidents; and it looks like the Trauma doctors are becoming the Judge and the Jury, in determining the difference between the two according to the evidence of their examinations.  Sometimes things ain't what the seem; and the parents end up on the short end of the stick. Could this be one of those times?

rockymissouri1
rockymissouri1

This is OUTRAGEOUS...!! Restore the children to their parents..!! ASAP ....

APS.ie
APS.ie

In the history of SBS, thousands of cases around the world, NOBODY HAS EVER WITNESSED A BABY BEING SHAKEN TO DEATH, or even to the point where one of the Triad of symptoms has ever been demonstrated. 


Prosecutors love this, you don't need a smoking gun, witness or any evidence other than a doctor willing to state that the Triad of symptoms was present. No bruise, fracture, abrasion, neck injury from the head flopping around, no telltale thumb imprints on the baby's chest from gripping the child too firmly. How many children bounce around in Jolly Jumpers and how many die from this?

In hundreds of cases now where nannycams have caught people shaking babies, not one of these infants ever demonstrated even one of the triad of symptoms! How can this myth have survived for so long? In fact many babies developed the symptoms shortly (10 days or so) after vaccination. The Dr who originally came up with the theory no longer stands by it and testifies FOR parents. 


What do we need for science to catch up? do we need MythBusters or Hollywood to finally dispel the myth of SBS? Dr John Lloyd and others have shown conclusively that the Triad can only be demonstrated by short falls and there will be other injuries. 

The shame of this is not just the innocent grieving parents being prosecuted but also for the babies who have died. If we put this myth to bed we could find a cause and cure for SIDS. Shame on doctors who still cling to this, I hope this couple sue. Well done to Police for a job well done.

naoma
naoma

I can never understand people who hit or slap their children.  Our only child was raised without EVER being slapped, hit or beaten in any way.  Both of us agreed this was the only way to raise a child.  She is a happy and wonderful adult now and says she had the BEST CHILDHOOD of anyone she ever met.

JeremyPraay
JeremyPraay

"Amongst clinical practitioners, from pediatricians to radiologists, from the American Academy of Pediatrics to the World Health Organization, the validity of AHT as a medical diagnosis is unquestioned." 

Once again, we are met with the straw man argument.  

No one is questioning whether or not head trauma exists.  What is being questioned, is shaken baby syndrome, which is a subset of abusive head trauma.  More specifically, can a doctor can make a diagnosis of shaking based merely on the constellation of injuries, i.e. the triad?  While nearly all active physicians on both sides of this debate will say that the triad alone is never sufficient, we seem to find case, after case, after case, where people are sentenced to prison, often for decades, based on this medical finding alone.  Worse, clear signs of infection and other diseases and conditions are commonly ignored and/or considered non-contributory.

SueLuttner
SueLuttner

Commendations, Monica Alonzo and New Times editors, for your thoughtful treatment of a difficult subject.

Incredible as it seems if you haven't seen it yourself, doctors---and now social workers---trained in a flawed model of infant head injury have been over-diagnosing inflicted pediatric head trauma for three decades and counting. While the pattern of intracranial bleeding and swelling that defines shaken baby syndrome can result from abuse, it can also reflect any of a long and growing list of legitimate medical conditions, including accidental injury. I am grateful to the handful of brave doctors and alert journalists who are bringing light to this dark arena.

For the story of one family torn apart when their son's genetic disorder was misdiagnosed as a shaking injury, please see http://onsbs.com/prologue/

totenkopf.andy
totenkopf.andy

Who cares? illegals are illegal. Look how much money they have cost US taxpayers already.

918thor
918thor

@APS.ie yes, I think we need crash test dummies for babies to disprove the shaken baby syndrome. The boy had a skull fracture. That sounds like a fall to me. You don't get that from being shaken.

canofworms
canofworms

@APS.ie Nobody has witnessed a baby being shaken to death?? Yes because most people don't want their murders being recorded. You're an IDIOT. Constant shaking of a baby, causing the head to snap back and forth is extremely harmful and studies have shown FATAL in some circumstances. Go ahead and shake YOUR baby, moron. 

APS.ie
APS.ie

@naoma maybe you should read that article before posting. It has nothing to do with slapping or child abuse.

rockymissouri1
rockymissouri1

And how many times have social workers left children in the care of TOTALLY ABUSIVE parents, and who should have been removed....to THIS FARCE, of the complete opposite, and destroying a young family in the process.!!

DWorkman
DWorkman

While I will not resort to name calling since thats childish and extreme - not to mention has no place here or in any adult conversation - I will say that your comment was neither helpful or needed and completely ignorant. Judgements like THAT are part of the problem..

DWorkman
DWorkman

Thats why they have changed their theory from SBS to Abusive Head Trauma AND shaking. Their learning... They know that this theory cannot stand much longer. Does shaking hurt a baby? Most definitely. Is it the cause of many of these injuries? No way. This is destroying families who are already hurting and confused. How tragic.

APS.ie
APS.ie

@918thor @APS.ie  The research proves that the Triad can only be produced by short falls or the vaccination. In the video you see a child shaking himself and producing the same forces wrongly believed to produce shearing of the bridging veins. The SBS Brigade have a mannequin that claim miniscule forces cause the Triad. 


Mythbusters should build a jumper device and put their mannequin in it while Dr Lloyd and others measure the forces. Compare this to a baby bouncing themselves and I believe the myth of SBS would be BUSTED!

Dr Lloyd is an expert in Biomechanical studies, he has also raised concerns that football helmets protect the skull and not the brain. If SBS were possible the boxing would certainly produce the Triad as would most sports. He also has done some great work for the government with car crash safety. 

Having read many post mortems from these cases, it is despicable that a grieving parent can be accused on the flimsiest evidence. Lives are destroyed from this junk science and babies are dying of SIDS because many believe this myth of SBS. 

In Ireland for example, in a decade there were 21 cases of SBS. Only one resulted in a prosecution and in that case there was a skull fracture, bruises and broken bones, AND an admission of guilt. You can bet in the other 20 cases that children were wrongly removed from grieving parents. 


It's time to put the myth of SBS to the scrapheap of junk science.

dstroebel
dstroebel

@canofworms @APS.ie Lets see. You said most people don't want their murders recorded, but you seeming left out spouses that hide nanny cams to catch their spouse/nanny/babysitter abusing their children and this is well documented in the media. Wrongful convictions exists and documented court evidence corroborates this fact. You will not understand until someone you know is wrongfully convicted-possible you too. Google, "wrongful shaken baby convictions," read testimonies from actual doctors who say SBS was not diagnosed, yet family services are notified and prosecutors manufacture false and misleading statements to secure a conviction-and prison sentence. It happens every day. Read, read , read...

naoma
naoma

@APS.ie @naoma   I am aware that the baby "fell off the bed."  I never said it was slapped nor hit -- just my assessment of how I raised my one child without any slapping or hitting.  I do not know how anyone can shake a baby.  

DWorkman
DWorkman

Wow. 1000 to 8000... Pretty large gap!

 
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