Mississippi Death Row Inmate Jeffrey Havard is Innocent!

This is an urgent story about a man on Mississippi’s death row who has done nothing wrong; he’s a victim of an angry lynch mob and an overzealous prosecution spawned by greed and politics. This is the story of Jeffrey Havard, 34, who today sits in a solitary cell on death row.

Jeffrey is accused of the murder and sexual assault of his girlfriend’s child, Chloe Britt, 6 months old, on February 21st, 2002, when Chloe wiggled out of his hands and hit her head on the toilet; Jeff thought she was okay and put her to sleep. When Chloe’s mother, Rebecca Britt returned home, she found Chloe blue in the face. Jeff and Rebecca rushed her to the ER, where she was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

In order to pursue a capital murder conviction and death sentence, the prosecution had to create an underlying felony. They did just that. They claimed Jeff sexually abused the child.  Jeffrey refused a plea bargain to life without parole, as he was obstinate in his denial of the charges.  After reading this article, you will know the truth, and, if you have a soul, you’ll be outraged by this abject miscarriage of justice. Jeff, 23 at the time of the incident, needs your help today!

The Timeline of Events on February 21, 2002
Jeff & Rebecca: Dinner and a Movie
The police put a really sinister spin on the fact that Jeff bathed her, and the state argued that jeff took it upon himself to bathe her that night and that it surprised rebecca. However, Rebecca told both her own mother, Lillian Watson, and Nurse Pat Murphy that night that she left for the grocery store and jeff was “supposed to bathe her” and put her to bed.
Rebecca and Jeff plan on dinner and a movie
Rebecca Britt and Jeff planned a night of having dinner and renting a movie from Blockbusters. Rebecca went to the grocery store and left Chloe in her little baby swing in the living room. The plan was for Jeff to give Chloe a bath while Rebecca was at the store. When Rebecca returned, she noticed Chloe wasn’t breathing properly, or she heard a “girgling sound”, but evaluated Chloe and determined she was okay and left her back in her bed. Rebecca then left to run to the video store, and when returning from that errand, noticed that Chloe looked blue.

Chloe was sick
Chloe had been fussy for the past few days due to an ear infection and was on some antibiotics for that. She also had a very bad cough, a runny nose, and symptoms of a cold. So she started crying and Jeff picked her up out of the swing and laid her down on the bed to change her diaper as they normally did. When he went to change it, however, she was completely dry. She then spit all over herself and on the bed, as well as Jeff. At that point, Jeff gave her a bath.

The Accident; How it Happened
*Note: Liam Neeeson is an actor whose wife, Natasha Richardson, was in Canada on a skiing trip, she skied into a tree. The paramedics were called and she joked, saying she was fine; just a bump on her head. 8 hours later, she was unconscious, and 48 hours later after being flown to New York City, was pronounced dead.  This is similar to in babies, which is what all evidence points to in Chloe’s case.
The accident
When Jeff was lifting her up out of the bathtub after her bath, she was wiggling around and slipped from his hands. She bonked her head on the top of the porcelain toilet and her leg hit the top of the bowl. Jeff scrambled to grab her and was able to just before she hit the floor.

Bruising on the back of the head is consistent with her falling into the toilet the way it’s situated there at the bathtub. Jeff assumed that because he calmed her down, diapered her, soothed her, and put her to bed, that everything was okay. He had no idea she had a brain injury. At first, Chloe didn’t make a sound but very quickly thereafter she let out a big gasp and then started crying. Jeff soothed her for a couple minutes and brought her into the bedroom and put a new diaper on and dressed her for bed. She seemed fine.

The medical literature with respect to head injuries in infants all suggests that many children — and adults — that suffer these types of head injuries will at first appear to be fine. Jeff laid her down back in her crib and turned on her little music box and left the room. What Jeff says is consistent with the Talk and Die Syndrome. In babies, it’s often referred to as  (PDF).

Chloe is in Danger, Taken to the ER

Rebecca returns home to find Chloe in danger
When Rebecca checked on the child after returning from the grocery store, she thought the baby was fine, heard a little gurgle in the baby’s throat and picked her up and checked her to make sure there was nothing in her mouth, but thought she was fine. She did not notice at that time that the baby wasn’t breathing properly.

Rebecca had forgotten to rent the movies they planned to watch, so she went back to Blockbuster and was gone for about 15-20 minutes. Jeff did open the door and poked his head in to check on her and she appeared to be fine. The child was having a lucid interval at the very least, which means that she appeared to be fine and was breathing fine and that is why both Jeff and Rebecca thought she was fine.

When Rebecca returned, however, she found Chloe in bed, blue, and not breathing. She immediately started to perform CPR on the child.  Rebecca would later testify that she knew how to do infant CPR because her mother showed her, but she was not certified nor did she have any formal CPR training. That lasted a couple of minutes and then they both frantically jumped in the car and drove her to the emergency room, as it was too urgent to wait for an ambulance.

 It’s imperative to note that Jeff rushed Chloe to the hospital, like any frantic adult would in an emergency situation. Had he been guilty of something, he’d surely have thought of something else. 

While some reporting has indicated that Jeff drove barefoot and didn’t even put his shoes on, this is not documented in any of the reports or in Jeff’s statement. He may very well have been barefoot. Some reporting has also indicated Jeff made a wrong turn on the way to the hospital. This is also untrue.  Jeff was driving to the larger area hospital, Natchez Regional (which was the hospital he was accustomed to) when Rebecca insisted he turn the car around and drive to Natchez Community, where her mother worked (this was made to seem like a stall tactic by Prosecuting District Attorney Harper, which didn’t even make sense). The hospitals are literally equal distance from trailer.

Jeff doesn’t give details immediately
Jeff’s fatal mistake was that when they got to the emergency room and handed the child to the first the nurse asked if the child was on any medication and they told her that she was. Jeff did not say anything about dropping Chloe. Yes, that was foolish and stupid, but Jeff was scared to death, freely admits his lapse in judgement, and regrets not doing so. By all accounts, however, this did not affect the child’s treatment; there was nothing the ER would have done differently and they treated her as if she had a head injury.

The ER staff rushes to a faulty judgement
The ER staff rushed Chloe into the treatment room and they began to try to intubate her. The doctor on call, however, was not a pediatrician and could not get the intubation tube in place for roughly 20 minutes. When Dr. Patterson was trying to get the child intubated, the ER staff first called Dr. Cadle (a pediatrician) and it was Dr. Cadle that ultimately was able to get the child intubated.

Staff realized quickly that Cadle was not the child’s regular treating pediatrician, so they called Dr. Ayesha Darr, who arrived at the hospital a few minutes after Dr. Cadle, while Cadle was intubating the child.

*Note: The child was in the hospital from 9:40 PM until the time of death which was 10:55 PM. She died of a subdural hemorrhage — that is, bleeding in her brain — and the doctors decided that it was Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS).
Just about the time this is happening, one of the nurses removed the child’s diaper and went to give her a rectal thermometer to take her temperature. According to the doctors and nurses at the emergency room, the child’s anus was dilated to about the size 1 cm. At that point, the doctors and nurses immediately called police (while they were still trying to resuscitate the child), jumping to the conclusion that the child had been sexually assaulted.

Rebecca’s mother worked at the ER of the hospital, was called in to be present during the ordeal. They got there at 9:40 pm; at 10:04 pm, Chloe was getting color back and breathing seemed to come back, 10:06 they started to lose her again. They did not find the contusion or 1 inch anus dilation until after this point. So had a sexual assaulted happened, they would have noticed when resuscitating her. They disposed of the diaper the child was wearing when she arrived.  Nurse Angela Godbold testified to the dilated anus and that she was able to see small tears. She also pointed out those tears on the autopsy photograph (taken by Dr. Hayne, who did not see tearing) shown to her, so clearly she perceived incorrectly as something as being a rip, or a tear, when in fact was not.  The diaper the baby was wearing when she came in was seized by detectives and is listed on the seizure report. 

Pre-Trial Detainment and Questioning
Jeff is ArrestedRebecca's Initial StatementRebecca's Testimony Changes
In order to reach the charge of capital murder, there had to be an underlying felony. After discussing the situation with the ER nurses and doctors, the decision was made to charge Jeff with felonious child abuse and sexual battery — the two underlying felonies that allowed them to charge Jeff with capital murder, punishable by death in Mississippi. Jeff would shortly be indicted on these charges.
The coroner transported the child’s body to the morgue. Jeff was whisked away by police, some time prior to the child dying, perhaps around 10:45 pm. Rebecca was taken by police to give a statement some time after Chloe died, which was at 10:55 pm. The police had their minds made up, and instructed Rebecca and her parents, Lillian Watson and Johnny Watson, to give written statements that Thursday night. Additionally, Rebecca would give a video statement the following day, Friday.

Jeff was interviewed briefly and was the only person not asked to provide a written statement or a video statement the night the child died. The only thing he signed that night was the consent to search form and an acknowledgment that he had received his Miranda rights.

Jeff, at this point being temporarily detained under suspicion under arrest for capital murder, was placed in a cell by himself and remained there until about 2:37 am when police finally came to talk to him. On Saturday, the 23rd, Jeff was formally arrested and charged with capital murder.

But on Thursday night, they put Jeff in a cell and seized his clothing, gave him standard issue jail clothing. They did not attempt to speak to Jeff until around 2:37 am, and at that point in time they only took a very brief statement from him — a “general oral statement.” The written statement and video statement was not taken until 2 days later on the Saturday, the 23rd, and only after Jeff flagged down a jailor and told the jailor that he wanted to speak with deputies. This was after they had already “formally arrested” him for capital murder.

 Basically, the police had their minds made up on what they wanted to do, and didn’t care what Jeff had to say; they just wanted him to sign the consent form .

The crucial videotaped interview of Rebecca and her mother were never turned over to defense counsel; this potentially helpful information only surfaced in 2010.
Rebecca told the police how she went to the grocery store and how she found Chloe. The police suggested to Rebecca, however, that Chloe had been sexually assaulted prior to being violently shaken by Jeff. In a videotaped interview of Rebecca that took place the following day (Friday). Rebecca described Jeff as being a caring person who loved the child and had never hurt either her or her baby, that he’s had to fix bottles for her, help to change her diapers, and that although he had never given her a bath before, he was supposed to give her a bath when she went to the grocery store.

In Rebecca’s mother’s statement that night, mother told the police the same thing – that the plan was for Rebecca to go to the grocery store and while she was there, Jeff was going to bathe Chloe and get her ready for bed. Rebecca also told this to a nurse at the hospital, that that was the plan and the nurse included it in her handwritten statement.

 As intimated, these taped interviews praising Jeff’s character were never presented to the defense prior to trial and both would have helped Jeff had the defense known .

At trial, Rebecca testified that she came home and found that Jeff had bathed the child and that that surprised her because he had never bathed her before. The prosecution argued to the jury that the bathing was Jeff’s attempts to cover up his crime and  Jeff’s lawyers did nothing to elicit testimony to show that the bathing of the child was not a spontaneous thing but was actually the plan for the night .

When police went back into the cell at 2:30 am to talk with him, they opened up with telling him the child had been “ripped from end to end” in a “violent rape” and that he “better start talking because (he was) going to die by lethal injection”.  Jeff, then confounded, cooperated with police , and gave them permission to search his home. At this point, Jeff was dazed and confounded about the allegation of sexual abuse.

A 23 year old with no medical degree, Jeff stated he “didn’t know how” the anal dilation happened.  Outrageously, this statement would be used by the prosecution in their closing argument .


The Star Witness — Dr. Steven Hayne

The medical examiner that perform the autopsy, Dr. Steven Hayne, did not even mention sexual assault anywhere in the autopsy, and the defense later learned in 2010 that it was because he never saw any evidence of a sexual assault. Dr. Hayne is a pathologist and expert on sexual assault.  Dr. Hayne was the only expert witness the state called at the time of trial and was the only witness qualified to testify as to whether or not a sexual assault may have occurred.  The witnesses that did testify sexual battery had occurred, the ER staff, were not tendered as expert witnesses during the trial, although “expert testimony” was elicited from them by Prosecutor Harper. 

Jeff’s lawyers, Gus Sermos and Robert Clark, didn’t understand the science involve with either Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) or the anal dilation, and needed an expert. They were denied an appointed expert. They thus had no expert to testify in Jeff’s defense to pose other ideas of what might have caused the anal dilation, and were too naive to cross-examine Dr. Hayne properly.
When he was asked on the witness stand what the condition of the child’s anus was “indicative of” Hayne responded that it was “consistent with … penetration by an object.” Prosecuting Attorney Ronnie Harper rushed through his questioning of Dr. Hayne, and defense counsel Sermos and Clark were to uninformed to properly cross examine him, so Dr. Hayne never had the opportunity to mention there may have been a bevy of other causes of the anal dilation. When asked if it “could have” been sexual battery, .

Dr. Hayne did clarify what he meant back in 2002 in his 2010 deposition:
Question by Habeas Counsel Mark Jicka:From your standpoint, and from your expertise, you cannot say that this child was sexually abused, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, is that correct?

Dr. Hayne’s answer:I could not now and I could not then, either at the trial or when I wrote the report, or discussed the case with the coroner.

It’s not what Hayne testified to; it’s what wasn’t asked of him by defense counsel Gus Sermos and Robert Clark. Hayne later, after trial, said there were no signs of sexual abuse. The jury was led to believe Chloe was torn apart, ripped end to end, and had brain injuries. Defense counsel did nothing to refute this.

The jury actually did see photographs of the child’s anus. Prosecutor Harper showed each and every medical witness the State’s exhibit #5, which was the photograph that was taken by Dr. Hayne during autopsy. Each and every witness said that what they saw at the hospital was much worse. Had Dr. Hayne simply been properly cross-examined by defense counsel, the outcome may have very well been different.

Hayne is no longer permitted to practice medicine in the state of Mississippi.  Hayne stated during his deposition in 2010 that he did not put sexual assault in his autopsy report because he did not see any evidence of that.

Major Controversies With the Jeff Havard Case
The Primary Issue: Ineffective Defense Counsel
At trial, Harper asked Dr. Hayne what the condition of the child’s anus was “indicative of” and hayne responded that it was “consistent with penetration by an object.” At that point, Harper moved on to another topic and did not ask Hayne to explain his opinion (i.e. what he meant by consistent with) and he never asked Hayne how certain Hayne was that the child was sexually assaulted. We now know that had Harper done that, Hayne would have had to explain that he wasn’t certain at all. It was not until the defense (appellate counsel) deposed Hayne in 2010 that Hayne testified that he didn’t include sexual assault in his autopsy report because “I didn’t see any evidence of that, counselor.”
Jeff’s lawyers, Gus Sermos and Robert Clark, did not go out and speak to a single witness prior to trial. They offered no witnesses (including no character witnesses).

As mentioned, they were unable to seek independent expertise from a qualified medical examiner; they were instructed by the presiding judge to go to Dr. Hayne if they had any medical questions. Although this is not a substitute for an independent medical expert, had they questioned Dr. Hayne, they would have learned that Dr. Hayne did not believe the child had been sexually assaulted.

What is truly outrageous in this case is when Dr. Hayne was finally deposed by Jeff’s appellate counsel in 2010, he clearly stated in the deposition that his opinion is the same as it was back in 2002, that he did not see any evidence of a sexual assault and that is why he did not mention it in his autopsy report. He also said that he specifically spoke to the prosecutor and the coroner about this right from the very beginning, and they were well aware of that.

The failure to properly cross-examine Dr. Hayne was crucial and cannot be overstated.  Because there was no proper cross-examination, the jury was left to think that what Dr. Hayne was saying was consistent with the prosecution’s theory that there was penetration by an object. Via the questions asked by Prosecutor Harper, Hayne was, in essence, saying that even if there was no injury at all, whatsoever — no dilation, bruising, etc. — that would have also been consistent with the prosecution’s theory that a sexual assault did occur. So the lack of a proper cross-examination was critical in this case.

The defense, being naive to the science and denied funding necessary to hire an independent expert to aid the defense, believed that Dr. Hayne had found the child had been sexually abused but simply did not include it in his autopsy report. The defense did not ask Dr. Hayne on cross-examination why he didn’t include this crucial information in his autopsy report, but had they done so Jeff Harvard could very well be a free man today.

The defense believed that Dr. Hayne, naive to the science and unable to hire an expert medical examiner, simply assumed that Hayne had found that the child had been sexually assaulted and didn’t really cross examine Hayne regarding that point in his testimony. Had they done so, Jeff Havard could very well be a free man today.

 The State took up roughly 300 pages of transcript. The defense took up 2 1/2 pages. The State called roughly 20 witness.  The defense actually did call 1 witness, but there was no rhyme or reason as to why they called him. His name was Brian Rabb, and he was the hospital personnel that drew blood from Jeff two days after the child died pursuant to an order for the sexual assault kit. His testimony added nothing, was extremely brief (5 or 6 questions) and he merely testified as to how the blood was drawn. But there was no dispute that Jeff’s blood was drawn properly and that the rape kit results were negative for any bio evidence left by Jeff. It was nonsensical. The defense didn’t even call a single character witness to testify that Jeff had babysat for his boss’s children, ages 2 and 4, regularly, and had never shown irregular tendencies! 
Dr. Hayne's Checkered History

Three people have had their murder convictions overturned because they were wrongfully convicted based on his testimony. Two of those people were on death row. Specifically, Levon Brooks and Kennedy Brewer both spent more than 15 years in prison for a conviction based on Haynes testimony. Brooks was convicted in 1990 for rape and murder of his ex-girlfriends 3-year-old daughter and Brewer was also convicted of rape and murder of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter in 1995. In both Brooks and Brewer’s trials, Hayne and forensic dentist Michael West testified that they found men’s teeth marks on the victims. However, the Innocence Project uncovered DNA evidence that proved Hayne and West were both incorrect.

Finally, Dr. Hayne recently was interviewed by Jerry Mitchell the Clarion Ledger (Jackson, MS) prior to an article Jerry Mitchell had written just this past spring/early summer and Hayne told Jerry Mitchell unequivocally that he has now abandoned his original belief in the Havard case that the child had been shaken to death because the science has changed since the time he testified.
After Havard’s death sentence was pronounced, several independent medical examiners reviewed the results and found that much of the information conveyed to the court was indeed false. Between the years of 1987 and 2008, Hayne claimed that he performed 1,800 autopsies a year – or roughly 85% of the autopsies in Southwestern Mississippi and Northeastern Louisiana. 1,800 autopsies a year means that he would have had to perform almost 5 autopsies a day, seven days a week, with no vacation, for 21 years straight. The National Association of Medical Examiners forbids anyone from performing more than 325 autopsies in a year.

Most doctors, who once espoused the theory put forth by pediatric neurosurgeon Norman Guthkelch who coined the term, “Shaken Baby Syndrome”, have now decided that the science doesn’t support his theory.  Even Dr. Guthkelch himself authored an affidavit recently in Arizona case of Drayton Witt suggesting that his original theory of shaken baby has never actually been the subject of rigorous testing and doctors have taken his theories way too literally.

And the one qualified doctor that testified at trial — Dr. Hayne — used evasive and equivocal language during his testimony when he testified about the anal dilation. Prosecutor Harper argued that Dr. Hayne had confirmed the ER’s suspicions that the child had been sexually assaulted. But there are .

Prosecutor Harper had to have known that this was not true. And defense counsel did nothing; neither Sermos or Clark dug deeper into Dr. Hayne’s findings after conducting the autopsy.

Attorneys deposed Dr. Hayne in November 2010, when Hayne stated he couldn’t come to the conclusion a sexual assault occurred.  The anal dilation has a number of causes especially from a traumatic brain injury and being brain dead; had counsel contacted him, he would have said this.  Hayne also told the D.A. prior to trial that he couldn’t give an opinion that sexual battery occurred, but that it could be possible.

Anal Dilation - Many Causes

There are many problems with the anal dilation, which Jeff’s execution or freedom hinges upon.

After the autopsy, it was revealed that there was no blood, no semen, no DNA, no pubic hairs, no biological evidence from Jeff whatsoever. Rather than take a step back and consider the possibility that the child had not been raped and that something else might have caused her dilated anus, police instead decided that he must have violated the child with an object. They never found the object.
Could the 1 cm mark have been exacerbated by the fact the ER staff had to insert a thermometer used to take her temperature? Could it have been consistent with brain injury as Dr. Hayne said in 2010? Constipation? A bowel movement? Wiping too hard? Chloe had diaper rash that entire week. Defense called no experts and never questioned Mr.Hayne. When a person dies their body goes limp, their muscles relax and often times the anus dilates.

It’s not disputed that the child had been brain dead for at least 25 minutes when the nurse went to take her rectal temperature. The problem is that emergency room staff had absolutely no training in the diagnosis of sexual assault saw that the child had a dilated anus, immediately concluding he had sexually assaulted her and they looked no further.

While in the ER, staff noticed a 1 inch anal dilation.  During the autopsy, Dr. Hayne noted a 1 cm. contusion to the child’s anus (which he testified was the size of an inch, but he misspoke). Nobody picked up on this error at the trial, so his testimony remained that the contusion was 1 inch, when it was actually one centimeter. The autopsy report clearly states it was 1 cm, and Dr. Hayne has since confirmed this.

Prominent Medical Examiners Weigh In

Dr. James Lauridson, retired chief medical examiner for the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, and world-renowned physician Dr. Michael Baden, both concluded that the autopsy results were untrue.

In fact:

  • The dilation of the anus by 1 inch is a common resulting cause of trauma to the head.
  • The anus damage was most likely not caused by a sexual act, and could have been exacerbated by the insertion of a thermometer into the anus while in the care of nurses in the hospital. Often, when dealing with infants, nurses are directed to insert a thermometer 1 cm into the infant’s anus, to conduct an accurate temperature reading.
  • Chloe’s head trauma matched Havard’s story about Chloe hitting her head on the toilet.
  • No forensic DNA had been found around or inside Chloe’s anus.
  • No object has ever been found that could have penetrated the child’s anus.
 In Baden’s report, he states that he reviewed Chloe’s medical records and autopsy and the testimony that was given at trial. Baden’s conclusion is that Chloe’s death was “entirely consistent with a short fall and not with an abusive shaking” and that “there is little evidence to support that Chloe sustained a severe, violent, abusive shaking.” 

Baden’s report also states that the testimony about the anal injuries were “premature.” “The anus can dilate in a coma or after death, and any anal abrasion could be due to innocent causes, such as constipation or diarrhea,” Baden wrote. “If the child was deceased prior to arriving at the hospital, the anal dilation seen by doctors at the hospital and in the autopsy could have been natural changes in the body upon death.”  Dr. Baden offered his opinion with a “reasonable degree of medical certainty”, a standard he’s more than qualified to meet.

From my analysis, Chloe was not sexually assaulted, and she died of injuries consistent with an accidental drop.Dr. Michael Baden, final conclusion
Prosecutorial Malfeasance and Manipulation

The prosecutor’s argument was outrageous at best, but more accurately, perhaps illegal. Basically the prosecutor constructed a very careful direct examination of Dr. Hayne asking mostly about the head injury. They then asked a single question about the condition of the child’s anus, asking what the condition was indicative of. Hayne responded that it “could be” consistent with penetration by an object.

The prosecutor argued both in opening and closing that Dr. Hayne had “confirmed the doctors and nurses’ worst fears”; the child had been violently sexually assaulted.

*Note – It cannot be overstated that Dr. Steven Hayne was the sole witness at the trial who could legally opine on whether or not there was sexual battery involved in the death of Chloe Britt. No other physician or nurse had the qualifications to opine with a “reasonable degree of medical certainty”, which is the legal standard.
The doctors and nurses had been called as witnesses by the state to testify but only as lay witnesses – that is, they were not tendered to the court as expert witnesses. Yet the prosecution elicited expert testimony from them that they were not qualified to give and unbelievably the defense made no objection. The only should have been able to testify about what they saw and did. In other words that they saw a bruise here and a contusion there, this is fair. Yet all of them were asked what it was indicative of to them and all of them stated that it was indicative of a sexual assault or penetration by an object. Since they weren’t proffered by the state as expert witnesses this was totally inadmissible but this defense attorney sat there and did not even object.

And there’s a reason the prosecutor did not proffer them as expert witnesses – the motion to tender the ER staff as expert witness was not filed, as the prosecution knew they would not be deemed as “qualified” to opine on sexual battery by the judge, as experts. There was no testimony about their training or experience. The treating physician that night, Dr. Patterson, only testified (as far as her background) that she was an emergency room physician and she was on duty at the hospital that night. That was the totality of her testimony regarding her qualifications. The fact is she was not a pediatrician and heaven only knows what her training and experience regarding child sexual abuse was, if any.

Harper showed the photos taken by Hayne at autopsy, allowing states witnesses to testify that they “didn’t do justice” to the injuries they saw (as if they disappeared overnight) in the ER, when photos taken at the hospital at time of death were clearly available to be entered into evidence. This was very misleading to jury.
The defense counsel chose not even cross examine Dr. Patterson; they simply said “the defense has no questions Your Honor.”

 Essentially, with respect to the sexual abuse — the reason Jeff is on death row and set for execution — any pediatrician you ask will tell you that anal dilation alone is not enough to diagnose sexual abuse.  In fact the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that if the doctor is to notice anal dilation and alive child, when deciding whether or not to report SUSPICION of abuse, that the concern should be low and that they should consult with an expert before even reporting the suspicion to police. Yet these medical witnesses all testified that it was a sexual abuse most definitely and that was the worst one they had ever seen. Note that we have no idea how many they had ever seen because they didn’t provide any testimony to that.

Simply put, Dr. Hayne did not see any evidence of sexual assault. But since sexual assault often occurs and results in no injuries whatsoever, Dr. Hayne was still able to testify that the condition of the child’s anus was “consistent with” a sexual assault. However, the condition of the child’s anus was the ONLY evidence that the child had been sexually assaulted, (there had been no allegations of sexual assault and nobody even suspected sexual assault until the doctors saw the condition of the child’s anus). Accordingly, Dr. Hayne’s testimony provided no affirmative proof of sexual assault
The Prosecution's Closing Arguments
“Ladies and gentlemen, there has still been a lot of emotion in this case. And I don’t think you can disregard the emotion you heard from the witness stand” … “This baby was shaken to death having been sexaully assaulted, and ladies and gentlemen, don’t try to understand it. Don’t try to figure how it could have happened. Just know what did happen, and render your verdict of guilty of capital of murder, because that what this man over there, is guilty of doing” ~ District Six District Attorney Ronnie Harper, closing arguments
Closing argument, District Attorney Harper said Havard “looked guilty” in his video statement.

Harper repeated Jeff’s line from his original police interview, when Jeff was simply trying to cooperate with police — little did he know it would come back to doom him at trial: “I can’t explain it; I don’t know.  I just can’t explain how that happened”.

The reason the prosecutor told them not to try to figure out what happened is because the prosecution doesn’t even know what happened.  The burden of proof was shifted to the accused to explain the dilation.  Jeff isn’t an expert, and Jeff wasn’t allowed to introduce his own expert.  His own counsel admitted in court he didn’t understand the science.

There was one ER doctor, Dr. Patterson, who held up 8′ x 10′ post-mortem photos taken by Dr. Hayne, pointing to the tears — tears that the only expert, Dr. Hayne, couldn’t find.  Jeff’s counsel didn’t object to that and didn’t cross-examine Dr. Dar, whom testified as a lay witness (not an expert) to the tearing and bleeding!

Harper had to have known that the states expert witness could not come to a conclusion that a sexual assault had occurred. In fact, in 2010, Dr. Hayne testified in the deposition that he specifically told this to Harper prior to the time he testified.


On top of that, Dr. James Lauridson came back concluded, based on the tissue samples, that that there was no lacerations or contusions.  There was no sperm or DNA, so the prosecution argued to the jury that Jeff must have used an object. What object was Jeff holding, and where is this object? !

This is no other way to explain it other than than to admit he committed sexual battery, ladies and gentlemen. No other way. I tell you, I’ve been prosecuting up here for 15 years, and I’ve seen confessions and statements and I’ve never seen a more incriminating statement from a person trying to deny that they committed a crime in my life. Never.District Six District Attorney Ronnie Harper
The Controversy of Shaken Baby Syndrome
Dr. Norman Guthkelch stated in 2011,”I don’t think that the famous triad, however well some people think it’s defined, can ever be so well-defined that you can say that and nothing else cause it — that meaning shaking.” He is also concerned by the number of cases similar to one he reviewed in Arizona that he concluded that child likely died of natural causes not SBS stating, “I think I used the expression in my report, ‘I wouldn’t hang a cat on the evidence of shaking, as presented.’ ” In 2012, Guthkelch went further, publishing an article “after 40 years of consideration,” which is harshly critical of shaken baby prosecutions based solely on the triad of injuries.
Shaken baby syndrome (SBS) is a triad of medical findings: subdural hematoma, retinal hemorrhage, and cerebral edema from which some doctors, consistent with current medical understanding, infer child abuse caused by intentional shaking. In a majority of cases there is no visible sign of external trauma. Many experts, however, claim this can also come from vitamin C deficiency, gestational problems, diffuse injury, or a blow to the head.

With respect to shaken baby syndrome (SBS), it’s now known to be junk science, and biomechanical engineers have now concluded that it is physically impossible for a human being to shake the child hard enough to cause a subdural hemorrhage without there being significant injury to the child’s neck. There was no injury to this child’s neck, which is generally the case in most of these shaken baby cases. So shaken baby convictions are being overturned all over the country.

Norman Guthkelch, now 97, the doctor who stated that whiplash injury caused subdural hemorrhage (in 1971) which led to the term “Shaken Baby Syndrome”, authored an affidavit recently in Arizona case of Drayton Witt suggesting that his original theory of shaken baby has never actually been the subject of rigorous testing and that doctors have taken his idea and basically run with it to the expense of many caregivers. His affidavit in that case is one of the things that helps to get that conviction overturned.  In simplest terms, Guthkelch explicitly rejects SBS as unscientific and inappropriate .

Most doctors, who once espoused the theory put forth by pediatric neurosurgeon Norman Guthkelch who coined the term, “Shaken Baby Syndrome”, have now decided that the science doesn’t support his theory. In fact, Normal himself doesn’t want his theories to be taken as fact.

In addition, the New York times has written numerous articles about the controversy over SBS, and The Huffington Posts’s Radley Balko took a close look at SBS used in Havard’s case, which revealed some shocking inconsistencies.

I think about Chloe every single day. There is not a day that goes by here on death row where I don’t think about her. In hindsight, I wish I would have gone with Rebecca to the video store that evening.Jeffrey Havard, from death row
All findings after the decision on Havard’s case have been ignored and denied by the Mississippi Supreme Court. The objection by the Mississippi Courts to review renewed testimonies and overruling evidence has made it impossible for Havard to escape death row. Even with public outcry over this case, The Mississippi Supreme Court continues to deny Jeffrey Havard the justice that he deserves. Until that time, the clock is ticking. Jeffrey Havard sits on death row as inmate L3955 with thousands of supporters.
Documents and Links

Trial Transcripts:

Pertinent Websites:

Jeff Havard’s interview from death row thanks to The Other Side of Justice (38 minutes):

My interview with ex-Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz and Criminal Defense Attorney Jennifer Fitzgerald regarding the Jeff Havard case:

Just to give some baseline as to what Jen was just talking about, in a 2 and a half day death penalty case … I was just in trial last month, and we had a day and a half on an insurance case — this is just an insurance case; this is just a civil case — a contract case, and a day and a half to select a jury in that case. We presented 3 witnesses in my case, and the trial lasted two weeks. When you have a death penalty case that lasted 2 and a half days, including jury selection, you get some sort of idea of the amount of detail that was paid attention to in this case.Ex-Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz


Please share this link and make others aware of this gross miscarriage of justice! An innocent man has been on death row for over 11 years, and the State of Mississippi is putting him on the fast-track to execution.  The time is now to help! As always, please leave your thoughts and comment(s) below.

Jason Weber
Founder of Occupy HLN. Hockey player-turned-professional. Graduate of Cornell University's Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management '97. Sports fanatic, enjoy networking, and keeping up with current events. Technocrat, Schema, SEO, blogaholic, social media contributor, Stack Exchange contributor, and keeping up with G's daily algorithmic alterations.
Jason Weber


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  • SueLuttner

    I apologize if I messed something up: I just found what looked like a comment on my shaken baby syndrome web site,, and I made a few editing changes. (I think “doctor” was misspelled, and Norman did not coin the term shaken baby syndrome, which he explicitly rejects as unscientific and inappropriate, so I revised that sentence.) BUT: Then I realized, after I’d done the editing and approving and so on, that it was not a comment but a pingback from another blog. I have no idea what effect I might have had on your blog, but I thought you would want to know. This is of course a personal comment. I will make a public one in a moment. Nice work, and thank you for the link to my blog. Jeffrey Havard’s case is so tragic.

    • Jason Weber

      Thanks Sue. I had your article in my Havard bookmark folder, as well as your article. I’ve found some more disturbing trends since then, however, regarding SBS, and the widespread usage of it by doctors and prosecutors. It seems people are still clinging to his 1971 theory that whiplash injury caused subdural hemorrhage … which he has repeatedly said, in so many ways, was not meant to be an exact science. In fact, I’m going to highlight one quote he gave in 2011, the most recent one I can find, and include it in the article.

      Thank you for reading, and thank you for the information, Sue!

      ~ Jason

  • SueLuttner

    Thank you, Mr. Weber, for taking on the tragic case of Jeffrey Havard. Difficult as it is to believe if you haven’t been there, doctors trained with a flawed model of infant head injury have been over-diagnosing inflicted pediatric head trauma for 30 years and counting. And in this case, as with Ernie Lopez, prosecutors pressed the sexual assault charges despite a negative sperm test.

    My conclusion from cases like this is that the deep-in-the-genes urge to protect the children is somehow so powerful that it overrides logical thinking. I wish I knew how to slow the rush to judgment in cases of pediatric trauma, while still protecting children from the real abuse that does occur.

    For the story of a family torn apart when their son’s genetic disorder was misdiagnosed as shaking injury, please see

    • Jason Weber

      I slightly altered the Shaken Baby Syndrome section of the article, Sue, to more accurately reflect what Guthkelch’s thoughts regarding SBS are. I will look through your prologue (bookmarked it) when I have an opportunity. Thanks again for writing, and for sharing your information!

      ~ Jason