Foot Forward for Justice: Free Tasha Shelby

by Astrid Parrett in Weymouth, , United Kingdom

£820

£3,500 stretch target 5 days left
164% 25 supporters
Keep what you raise – this project will receive all pledges made by 30th May 2022 at 9:16pm

I am raising money to travel to Mississippi and help secure justice for wrongfully convicted Tasha Shelby.

by Astrid Parrett in Weymouth, , United Kingdom

New stretch target

We need extra funding to pay for flights, travel and transport, rent, and other living costs for our two month trip to Mississippi.


FOOT FORWARD FOR JUSTICE: Free Tasha Shelby 

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During the month of April 2022, I will be walking several challenging routes around Dorset, London and Durham to raise money to be able to go to Mississippi this summer to work on the case of Tasha Shelby. Tasha Shelby was wrongfully convicted of capital murder in 2000 and has been imprisoned ever since.

 

What will these walks entail? The reason I have chosen these locations is that each walk will encompass prisons or courts that I consider tie in well with Tasha’s wrongful conviction and the search for justice. I will pass 22 institutions - each one signifying a year of Tasha’s wrongful incarceration. Please feel free to follow me on Instagram (@astridparrett) and Twitter (@astridparrett) as I post these walks.

 

Tasha Shelby 

 

Tasha Shelby was wrongfully convicted in her early 20s of murdering her stepson, Little Bryan in 1997. In her capital trial, medical examiners including Dr Riddick stated that Bryan had died from non-accidental head injuries (Shaken Baby Syndrome).  

On the ni1649077855_screenshot_2022-04-04_at_14.09.24.pngght of 1997, Tasha Shelby had heard a bump coming from Bryan’s room where she then found Bryan convulsing on the floor. Later, when Bryan was at the hospital, he was pronounced dead. Authorities and medical examiners had immediately concluded that Bryan had died from non-accidental head injuries. In other words, shaken baby syndrome.

 What has arisen since the trial in 2000? 

 Since Tasha’s case one of the medical examiners, Dr Riddick, changed the cause of death from homicide to accidental on little Bryan’s death certificate.  The reason why he changed his opinion was that he (nor the jury) knew little about little Bryan’s history of seizures. Furthermore, the evidence and academic opinion about Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) has changed dramatically since 1997. Instead, Dr Riddick believes that little Bryan’s injuries could have been caused by a fall from the seizures that little Bryan suffered from.

 

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Furthermore, when Dr Riddick looked back at the medical documents, he highlighted that there were no lacerations or tears which are injuries you would look for in cases of shaking.  Also, another reason why Bryan could not have died from shaking is that it did not fit the injuries required by SBS.

 

Furthermore, it is also important to consider that little Bryan’s father, Bryan the 3rd, had testified that he had accidentally bumped little Bryan’s head on a van door while taking little Bryan to the hospital on that evening. It also needs to be recognised that Tasha was in a fragile state only giving birth to another baby by C-section two weeks before. It further brings into question how Tasha would have been able to cause Bryan’s death.

 

What is shaken baby syndrome? 

 

SBS was first introduced by Guthkelch whose hypothesis was that shaking might be a cause of a triad of observations- subdural hematoma (SDH) or bleed on the brain along with cerebral oedema (CO) or swelling of the brain, and retinal haemorrhages (RH). However, in truth, this is just a theory - it has never been scientifically proven. However, SBS had led there to be a taught diagnosis for medical practitioners to identify.

 

Dr Waney Squier is a paediatric neuropathologist who has been brave enough to speak out against SBS. At one time, Dr Squier believed in the theory of SBS and appeared for the prosecution in a number of cases. However, examining new evidence more closely, she has come to believe that there is no evidence for shaken baby syndrome and that it does not exist.

 

Emily, my case partner and myself have conducted a preliminary study into the SBS diagnosis with the help of Dr Squier and human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith. We looked through 94 publicly reported decisions from the UK family and criminal courts. In one finding of the study, we identified that the majority of legal players in the cases had little significant expertise in shaken baby syndrome.   This is worrying considering that the majority of the outcome of family cases are decided by judges. To find out more about our study, look here.

I will link other resources at the bottom of the page that has further information on SBS.

Our project 


Emily Girvan-Dutton, my case partner and I are hoping to go over to Mississippi this summer to build on the evidence that we have compiled for nearly a year. This evidence will hopefully help put together a plea for clemency or find another way to free Tasha.

 

To gain new information about Tasha’s case, we are going to interview medical experts who played a part in the case, jury, family, friends and anyone else who knew her at the time. Also, we aim to talk to new medical experts.

 

We are also hoping to not just work on Tasha’s case but help other people who have been wrongfully convicted on the basis of SBS in the US. We currently have someone else in mind on death row that we would also like to help.

 

What can you do?

 

However, we need help. We need funding to be able to pay for travel, rent and other living costs for our two-month trip. Please donate to this crowdfunding page - any amount will be gratefully received.

If you would like to leave a kind message of support for Tasha please do so in the comments section of the crowdfunding page.

I also recommend reading Tasha's blog to hear more about her life in prison and how she has fought for her education. 

Thank you! 

Astrid Parrett is a law student at Durham University. She is also an apprentice at 3DCentre. 3DCentre is an organisation that investigates injustices and fights individual cases. 3DCentre was founded by human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith. 

Other resources: 

Waney Squier: 'Science is not a democracy'-  https://www.thejusticegap.com/waney-squier-what-we-have-is-a-hypothesis-that-isnt-fit-for-use-as-a-diagnosis-or-in-our-courts/

BBC Newsnight: Shaken Baby Syndrome: Dr Waney Squier defends record- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RMPPTkJ8bs

"We believe you harmed your child": the war over shaken baby syndrome cases- https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/dec/08/shaken-baby-syndrome-war-over-convictions

Clive Stafford Smith: This shaken baby syndrome case is a dark day for science- and for justice- https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/14/shaken-baby-syndrome-science-doctor-challenging-theory-infant-waney-squier


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