Stop Wrongful Convictions
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I am Stephen Hoffman, I was wrongfully convicted of Abusive Head Trauma (Shaken Baby Syndrome) resulting in the death of a minor on February 25, 2014. I am currently serving a 25 year to life sentence at Pleasant Valley State Prison. The child was my fiancé’s 16-month-old son. At no time did I ever harm him, in my eyes he was my son, he called me dada and I introduced him as my son. Below is a brief description of what transpired.
After arriving home from work (around 12:30am), I spoke to the babysitter and then placed him in bed. We shared a room at my soon to be father in laws house, when I returned from locking up, him was sitting up in bed. He was not interested in going back to sleep so I allowed him up on the bed with me. I turned the TV on and ate my dinner. He watched TV for a little while and then wanted to play, we both started to bounce on the bed, several times he hit the wall while bouncing so I moved him on the bed away from the wall. My attention was briefly drawn to the TV and when I turned back, I saw Kye falling off the end of the bed. I jumped up as I heard him hit the floor with a loud thud, by the time I rounded the bed he was rolling over and crying. I picked him up and calmed him down; he seemed okay at the time. A little while later he was back asleep and when I moved him from our bed to his I noticed a lump/slight bruise forming near his eyebrow. I sent a text to his mother who was working the overnight shift and let her know what happened. She called and asked how he was and wanted me to keep an eye on him, I feel asleep a short time later but woke a few times to see that Kye was sleeping. Around 6:00am, his mother returned home, she checked on Kye before laying down and she confirmed he appeared to be fine. Around 8:00am I was awoken by his breathing, it sounded labored, I tried to wake him and he did not respond. I woke his mother who tried to wake him with no results, I dialed 911 and gave the phone to her, and the police arrived shortly and began assessing him.
Unbeknownst to me, he had fallen earlier in the evening in the bathtub while his mother was giving him a bath, slamming the back of his head on the tub. That morning when he was at his grandmother’s house, he ran out the front door to greet his mom and tripped on the stair hitting his head on the walkway. In addition, he had previously obtained a bruise in the center of his forehead when he ran straight into a wrought iron table at his great grandmothers, on the same date he had been tripped by her dog and fell to the side hitting the wall. This was all within a 5-day period of his accident.
Although this was indicated in the police reports and at trial, all incidents of him hitting his head were ignored or overlooked and the focus was placed solely on the period he was in my care. I feel the police, ER physicians and DA quickly presumed this as an abuse case and because I was the last person with him, I was subsequently arrested and charged. They used the fact that there was no one who could corroborate my story and the statistical improbability of the short fall causing his death; they deemed this as murder.
The public defender assigned to my case was from the youth offender court, she had no experience or knowledge of how a murder case was handled. Subsequently she called only one expert to the stand and no character witness’. She would not allow me to take the stand in my defense. Several months after the death, my fiancé suffered a miscarriage and began an affair with another man as a way of dealing with her grief. Due to these circumstances, I tried to commit suicide and voluntarily was hospitalized for care and therapy. My attorney did not want me on the stand as she did feel I could explain my actions. In addition, the investigation and trail were riddled with prosecutorial misconduct, selective prosecution, and juror misconduct.
Parents and caregivers are accused everyday of inflicting harm or death on a child because it's easier to assume a crime then to actually find the cause of "Shaken Baby Syndrome" currently being called "Abusive Head Trauma". Help me and others like me regain our freedom and clear our name so we can return to our families.
Ask Governor Jerry Brown to re-open my case and allow me a fair and decent trial.
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