News archives

News archives

Original content produced by The Medill Justice Project.

Missed Moments, New Memories

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas—Jenni Del Prete presses up against the railing in hopes of getting a better view. In front of her is a maze of ramps, rails and small flights of stairs. Hidden from view is her 27-year-old daughter, Tia, busy tying the yellow straps of her knee and elbow pads, adjusting her helmet and wheeling back and forth in her custom-made wheelchair. She calls it practicing. It looks more like pacing.Read the full story here.

Code of Silence

MIAMI—A key eyewitness, fearful of retribution, said he will not testify in a Miami murder case even though he knows who committed the killing and it isn’t the man who is serving a life sentence for it. Read the full story here.

Stranger Than Fiction?

WILKINSBURG, Pa.—Shots were fired and­ a man slumped dead, bloody in his basement on a late snowy December night in 1975. Within minutes, Sgt. Dominick LaBella of the Edgewood Police Department entered the modest brick home where he found the victim’s 5-year-old son hysterical.Read the full story here.

Stranger Than Fiction?

PITTSBURGH—From another room, 20-year-old John heard two words directed at his girlfriend, Kimberly: “F— you.”

The expletive came from Kimberly’s friend Steve, who was helping her clean up in the dining room after a night of watching TV, playing Trivial Pursuit and eating cold pizza. Those two words were enough to light a “fire in his eyes,” Kimberly later told police. From the living room, John leapt over his couch, grabbed Steve by the shirt and threw him against the wall. As Steve slumped to the ground, John grabbed a dining room chair, ready to bash him over the head.Read the full story here.

Death Denied

The Medill Justice Project premieres death penalty documentary, ‘Sword of Damocles’Read the full story here.

Shaken (French)

Être parent peut réserver bien des surprises… Surtout quand il s’agit d’un nouveau né. Parfois, les bébés commencent à pleurer et on ignore pourquoi. Ils se mettent à éternuer, à tousser et évidemment, en tant que parent, on s’inquiète et on imagine le pire. Et cela peut être vraiment très frustrant…. Jusqu’à quel point ? Qui sait ce qui se passe vraiment derrière les portes closes… Lorsque l’enfant est seul avec un parent frustré, comment savoir si l’adulte va trop loin ? Cette semaine, dans The Life the Law, notre reportage est consacré à l’affaire Tonia Miller. Cette jeune américaine fait partie de nombreux parents à se retrouver sur le banc des accusés pour un cas lié au “syndrome du bébé secoué”, un concept complexe qui soulève de nombreuses questions. Le Medill Justice Project, un centre de journalisme d’investigation situé vers Chicago, aux Etats-Unis, a enquêté sur cette affaire.

“Shaken” est notre reportage du jour. Read the full story here.


Being a parent, especially a parent to a newborn baby, can test us in the most surprising ways. Sometimes, oftentimes newborns cry and you don’t know why. It can be frustrating. They sneeze or they cough and you worry it’s something worse. It can be scary. But who really knows what goes on behind closed doors. This week at Life of the Law, we’re going to tell you a story about a young woman, her family, her community and her baby. The question is when has a gone too far and how do we know?Read the full story here.


A reminder of what’s lostRead the full story here.


BATTLE CREEK, Mich.—On Aug. 6, 2002, in the hulking Calhoun County Justice Center, Dr. Brian C. Hunter took the witness stand in a case against a teenage mother accused of killing her daughter. What he was about to say carried weight because he was the doctor who performed the autopsy on the 11-week-old infant: “This was basically a healthy child,” he said.

Hunter testified Alicia Duff had been violently shaken to death—known as shaken-baby syndrome.Read the full story here.


An 18-year-old mother sits in a cramped room across the table from two investigators with children’s protective services. Her 11-week-old daughter, Alicia, lies in intensive care. They start asking the mother: What happened? Did you violently shake your daughter?

“During our entire interaction, she had a very flat affect; no emotion,” Robert W. Peck Jr., one of the investigators, testified at Tonia Miller’s murder trial about a year and a half later.

In an interview for this article, Miller says she gave off nothing—she wore a blank expression. But behind her emotionless wall, she says she was scared. She just wanted to see her daughter. She felt desperate, trapped.Read the full story here.