Jeff Havard was convicted in 2002 of murder by shaken baby syndrome and sexual molestation of six-month old Chloe Britt. He was sentenced to death by the State of Mississippi. Jeff Havard has always said that he accidentally let Chloe slip out of his hands and hit her head on the toilet after her bath. He thought Chloe was fine after she stopped crying and he put her to bed. When checked on later Chloe was found turning blue and later died that night at the hospital. Jeff is devastated that Chloe received a fatal injury while in his care, but it was an accident and not an intentional act.
Jeff’s conviction was based on the testimony of an un-certified pathologist and the sexual molestation speculation of emergency room staff that testified the infant's dilated anus indicated sexual abuse. Jeff was denied independent experts to counter their claims. Since Jeff’s conviction all testimony used to convict has been disputed and discredited.
Dr. Steven Hayne conducted the autopsy, concluding the death was a homicide, consistent with shaken baby syndrome. Dr. Hayne also testified that an anal contusion was “consistent with penetration of the rectum with an object.” He did not state Chloe was sexually assaulted, but failed to rightfully exclude it. The court accepted the findings of Dr. Hayne, neglecting to take into account that he was not a certified pathologist. Since the time of Jeff’s trial, Dr. Hayne has been discredited for submitting faulty work on multiple cases and is now banned from performing autopsies in the State of Mississippi. Dr. Hayne later re-examined the case and has now stated in a signed declaration that evidence was not sufficient to conclude that a sexual assault occurred.
World-renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden has reviewed the case and disagreed strongly with the finding of shaken baby syndrome. Dr. Baden stated: “There is no autopsy or scientific evidence to support a diagnosis that Chloe died of shaken baby syndrome.” According to Dr. Baden, the injuries detailed in the autopsy were consistent with injuries caused by head trauma from Chloe being accidentally dropped, hitting her head on the toilet just as Havard had described. Dr. Baden also concluded that the anal dilation noted by hospital staff was a common occurrence when a patient is in a coma or after death, and the small anal contusion was likely due to innocent causes, such as constipation, diarrhea or rubbing up against a diaper.
Dr. Baden concluded that Chloe “was not sexually assaulted and that she died of injuries consistent with an accidental drop.”
Former Alabama state medical examiner Dr. James Lauridson also reviewed the case after Jeff's conviction and concluded that the evidence failed to confirm that a sexual assault of any kind had taken place. There was no evidence of any tears or lacerations in Chloe’s anus, that would have been especially apparent in a sexual assault of an infant, and it is not out of the ordinary for dilation to occur naturally. He also noted that a thermometer inserted into the Chloe’s anus at the emergency room could have easily caused the small bruise.
Jeff did not receive a fair trial. His request for an independent expert was denied by the court, leaving the jury to base their conclusions only on the prosecution’s expert testimony. His state appointed attorney presented no witnesses and neglected to present key evidence such as the autopsy report to the jury. Jeff's trial took less than two days with the jury deliberating for just over a half hour.
The truth is Chloe’s death was a tragic accident, not a murder. Jeff accidentally dropped Chloe after giving her a bath. The evidence in the case supports his claims.
Jeff has been the victim of a rush to judgment by the hospital staff that erroneously concluded that a sexual assault had been committed before ruling out more plausible explanations for their findings. The authorities accepted those conclusions without any further investigation, instantly declaring Chloe's death a capitol murder case.
Jeff Havard’s conviction was secured based on the theory of a sexual assault which led to murder. There is absolutely no evidence to support that claim. Jeff Havard is innocent.
We ask you to sign this petition to demand that Jeff Havard be granted a new trial.
After you sign this petition, please visit www.freejeffreyhavard.org to learn more about Jeff's case.
Pathologist: No evidence death row inmate abused child
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