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At the Versailles court, eight years of suspicion and an acquittal in a “shaken baby” file

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They would like to explain and explain again to the single judge who listens to them all that they have experienced. She begins a sentence, he continues. They have so much to say that their words collide and get tangled up. Behind them – do they perceive it? – there are the murmurs of the other defendants who are waiting their turn and the annoyed sighs of the lawyers who find that the four hours devoted to this first file, called Monday, November 28 at the correctional hearing of the Versailles court, are definitely too much long. But it has been eight years, almost to the day, that Daniel and Caroline M. have been suspected of intentional violence against their son Victor, then 8 months old, and whom they hope to have their innocence recognized.

On November 12, 2014, the public prosecutor of Versailles received a report from the Necker hospital in Paris. The child admitted a few days earlier to the pediatric neurosurgery emergency room, presented, with regard to the first clinical examinations, “a bilateral chronic subdural hematoma with right acute bleeding and retinal hemorrhages”. The doctor’s report concluded: “According to the recommendations of the High Authority for Health (HAS), the diagnosis of head trauma inflicted by shaking is highly probable. »

The miners’ brigade is seized, and Daniel and Caroline M., who spent their days and nights in the hospital alongside Victor, are immediately put aside. To the investigators, who hear them under police custody, they repeat what they have already told the doctors. On November 5, 2014, Caroline M.’s father picked up his grandson from the nanny to bring him back to his parents. Arriving in front of their pavilion, he fell on the asphalt with the child in his arms. Alerted by “empty stare” of Victor, Daniel M. called the fire department and the child was hospitalized.

Read also (2021): Article reserved for our subscribers False Confessions: The Case of Shaken Babies

A judicial inquiry is open. The first expertise, then the additional expertise requested by the examining magistrate, are formal: the fall of Victor, in the arms of his grandfather, could not on its own explain the medical findings, in particular the retinal hemorrhages. The child, experts say, “has been the victim of one or more episodes of violent tremors which may date back to around October 10, 2014”, that is almost a month earlier. The life of Daniel and Caroline M. is scrutinized. He is an engineer, she is a civil servant, Victor is their only son, they resorted to egg donation after long years of fruitless hope. They are both 40 years old when they finally become parents. For six months, they took turns at home around the baby, who was born prematurely, then entrusted him for the day to an approved nurse. Loving, worried, very protective parents, relatives unanimously say. “A psychorigid father”, nuance the pediatrician they consulted regularly. Anger, sudden gestures? Daniel M. spontaneously recognizes one, one night, when his son was screaming. But shaking the child, no, never, he repeats. The nanny is also the subject of information. She is dismissed. Suspicion remains on Daniel and Caroline M.

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