Miss AG Jim Hood: Stop The Dishonesty. Tell The Truth About The Jeff Havard Case!
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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. The truth is that Chloe slipped from Jeff's arms while lifting her from the tub, causing her head to hit the toilet. Jeff thought Chloe was okay 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 false claims fueled by the sexual molestation speculation of emergency room staff who 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 fully discredited.
In May of 2016, the Mississippi Supreme Court ordered an evidentiary hearing for Jeff’s case based on defense claims of new evidence due to changes in the science behind Shaken Baby Syndrome. In September of 2018, Jeff's death penalty sentence was vacated, and a resentencing hearing was ordered. On December 18, 2018, Jeff was resentenced to life without parole. Jeff is now off of death row, but his fight is far from over.
The truth about this case is clear. Chloe slipped from Jeff's arms while lifting her from the tub after a bath, causing her head to hit a nearby toilet. New expert evidence supports Jeff's claims. Chloe’s death was a tragic accident, not a murder. Jeff Havard is innocent.
The prosecution's expert, Dr. Steven Hayne, conducted the autopsy, concluding the death was a homicide, consistent with shaken baby syndrome (SBS). 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 at trial, thanks to the prosecutor's choice of questioning, and lack of cross examination by the defense.
New expert evidence in Jeff’s case shows that the injuries to Chloe Britt suggest a short fall, not SBS. Multiple experts have reviewed the case and have provided affidavits for the defense. Dr. Michael Baden, a world renowned physician and board-certified forensic pathologist, disagrees with the finding of SBS. Baden stated: “There is no autopsy or scientific evidence to support a diagnosis that Chloe died of shaken baby syndrome.”
Dr. Janice Ophoven, a pediatric forensic pathologist with over 30 years of experience, stated in her affidavit that there was no evidence to support a finding of shaking in Jeff’s case. She concluded that the evidence suggested an impact.
Forensic Pathologist Dr. George Nichols, who has over twenty years of experience as Kentucky’s Chief Medical Examiner, as well as being an instructor of pathology at the University of Louisville Medical School the past twenty-three years, concluded that Chloe Britt’s death is entirely consistent with a short fall, and not an abusive shaking.
The most damning evidence against the prosecution's case, comes from their own expert. In 2009, Hayne provided a declaration stating that there was no sufficient evidence to conclude that a sexual assault had taken place. Hayne stated that the one centimeter contusion found in the infant's anus had numerous potential causes. Hayne concluded that there was absolutely no proof to suggest that Chloe's death was the result of any sexual act.
In 2013, Hayne changed his position regarding cause of death. With respect to SBS, Hayne stated: “At trial, I testiﬁed that the cause of death of Chloe Britt was consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome. Recent advances in the ﬁeld of biomechanics demonstrate that shaking alone could not produce enough force to produce the injuries that caused the death of Chloe Britt. The current state of the art would classify those injuries as shaken baby syndrome with impact or blunt force trauma.” These statements were made with a reasonable degree of medical certainty.
In a shocking revelation, Jeff's defense team learned in January of 2014, 12 years after the conviction, that Hayne had looked at tissue sections under a microscope and found definitively that there was no evidence of sexual assault. In a case where suspicion of sexual assault only arose when ER doctors and nurses noticed what they believed to be physical evidence of sexual abuse.
Hayne clarified in a 2014 affidavit that he specifically told prosecutors on more than one occasion prior to trial that he could not support a finding a sexual abuse. Hayne's microscopic findings were clearly exculpatory, and would have positively shown that the doctors and nurses had simply misinterpreted what they saw. The state withheld this evidence from the defense, which is a Brady violation, and they also failed to tell the doctors and nurses about this evidence before they testified.
Unbelievably, the State chose to ignore Hayne's findings and prosecute Jeff for murder during the course of a sexual assault. Prosecutors stood before the Court and told the jury that Dr. Hayne had "confirmed the nurses and doctors worst fear, that this child had been sexually abused." They knew that Dr. Hayne had done no such thing; in fact, he had done just the opposite. Jeff Havard is currently trapped behind bars as an innocent man because the prosecution lied to the jury.
A reasonable jury, presented with the evidence that was illegally withheld from the defense, would have reached a different verdict.
It is now crystal clear that Jeff Havard has been wrongfully convicted for a crime that never happened. Five experts have now reviewed the case who confirm that a sexual assault never took place and that the evidence shows the cause of death was a short fall. The State’s only expert is also on record declaring that a sexual assault never took place and that he no longer believes that SBS was the cause of death. There are currently no experts who support the prosecution’s claims. It is now proven that the prosecution knew before trial that a sexual assault never took place, yet they pushed forward to convict anyway.
Chloe’s death was a tragic accident, not a murder. Jeff Havard is innocent.
We ask that you to sign this petition to demand honesty from the Attorney General's Office. Let Jim Hood know that you expect him to tell the truth about the Jeff Havard case!
After you sign this petition, please visit www.freejeffreyhavard.org to learn more about Jeff's case.
Jeff's advocates have also created a blog, which includes personal blog entries by Jeff, the facts regarding his case, background info, and much more. We are here to give Jeff a voice that otherwise never would have been heard: https://savejeffhavard.com/
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