New hearing in baby’s death

DETROIT (AP) — The Michigan appeals court has reopened the case of a Battle Creek woman who lined up experts to offer new opinions on the death of her daughter in 2001.

Tonia Miller, 37, has been in prison since 2003 when she was convicted of second-degree murder.

Defense experts believe Miller’s 11-week-old daughter died from pneumonia, not head trauma referred to as shaken baby syndrome.

The appeals court ordered an evidentiary hearing in Calhoun County and assigned the case to a different judge. It’s possible Miller could get a new trial.

Miller said she shook Alicia Duff when the baby gasped for air and stopped breathing while being fed from a bottle. She denied shaking her violently or with an intent to hurt the child.

“The parties agree that the underlying physical evidence — the medical and autopsy records — remains the same. The scientific understanding of those records has allegedly changed. … The issue is whether scientific understanding and knowledge (after) her trial call into question the reliability of the jury’s verdict,” the appeals court said in a 3-0 opinion.


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