Shaken-baby syndrome


The Medill Justice Project examines a largely opaque criminal justice issue.

Del Prete Sues Police, Medical Expert

Del Prete Sues Police, Medical Expert

Jennifer Del Prete filed suit today against the villages of Romeoville and Plainfield, Romeoville police and a medical expert, alleging they fabricated scientific findings and suppressed exculpatory evidence which led to her wrongful first-degree murder conviction. Read the full story here.

Del Prete Sues Police, Medical Expert

Jennifer Del Prete, center, holds a press conference to announce she filed a civil suit against the villages of Romeoville and Plainfield, Romeoville police and a medical expert, alleging they suppressed and fabricated evidence which led to her wrongful imprisonment. Her murder 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.

Judge Reverses Del Prete’s Murder Conviction, Orders New Trial

A Will County Circuit Court judge today vacated Jennifer Del Prete’s murder conviction and ordered a new trial, the latest victory in her fight to clear her name.

Little more than two years ago, a federal judge released Del Prete from prison, ruling no reasonable jury would have convicted her based on all of the evidence, which included a police detective letter discovered by The Medill Justice Project.Read the full story here.


More to come.Read the full story here.

From Incarceration to Freedom: A Journey of Faith

SUMMIT, Ill.—It is a cool, clear afternoon in early May when Jennifer Del Prete sits down on her porch after her latest court hearing. After being accused, convicted and then released a decade before her sentence would be up for first-degree murder, she hopes for more: to clear her name. No one is around, not even “Slim,” her wife Karen Alonzo, and she tries not to think about the courtroom. Instead, she focuses on a bird soaring above, the muted barking of the dogs downstairs and a neighbor who passes by. Her mind wanders but she brings it back to silence.Read the full story here.

Witnesses in Court Hearing Say Key Information Was Withheld as Del Prete Continues to Fight to Clear Her Name

JOLIET, Ill.—Jennifer Del Prete was released from prison two years ago but continues to fight to clear her name as she appeared yesterday at a Will County Circuit Court hearing where witnesses said key evidence had been withheld pointing to her innocence.Read the full story here.