Aisling Brady McCarthy hearing: baby’s injuries indicated ‘child abuse’

Irish nanny faces trial in Massachusetts for murder of 12-month-old girl Rehma Sabir

 Aisling Brady McCarthy faces trial for the murder of 12-month-old Rehma Sabir, who had been in her care as a nanny and was found unconscious at the family’s Cambridge, Massachusetts apartment in January 2013.  File photograph: Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Aisling Brady McCarthy faces trial for the murder of 12-month-old Rehma Sabir, who had been in her care as a nanny and was found unconscious at the family’s Cambridge, Massachusetts apartment in January 2013. File photograph: Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

 

An opthalmologist under consideration as an expert witness for the upcoming Massachusetts murder trial of Aisling Brady McCarthy has said haemorrhages to the eyes of an infant who died while in Ms McCarthy’s care were consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome.

“The only diagnosis that I can come up with: child abuse in this case,” said Dr Alex D Levin, a paediatric opthalmologist with a speciality in child abuse paediatrics who testified in a voir dire hearing in Middlesex County superior court.

Ms McCarthy, from Co Cavan, who has been in a Massachusetts jail awaiting trial since her arrest in January 2013, looked on during the hearing, occasionally speaking to her attorney. She was dressed in black prison scrubs.

She faces trial for the murder of 12-month-old Rehma Sabir, who had been in her care as a nanny and was found unconscious at the family’s Cambridge, Massachusetts apartment.

The girl died two days later, on January 16th, 2013.

Physicians’ notes

“I would say the findings behind the eye - the blood in the sclera [the white portion of the eyeball] - I don’t know of another disease that would cause the blood in the sclera,” said Dr Levin, who said he had examined 52 tissue slides, physicians’ notes and the child’s birth records, as well as photographs of the autopsy of the child.

Under examination for 1hr 20m by assistant district attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, Dr Levin said in addition to haemorrhages he was able to see in the whites of the baby’s eyes, he also found haemorrhages behind the eyes, in addition to swelling of the optic nerve, and tears in the retina.

“I believe the child suffered from abusive head trauma… repetitive acceleration, deceleration… the result of an abusive act which was not accidental,” said Dr Levin.

Massive injuries

Prosecutors contend the child sustained massive brain injuries consistent with being shaken while in Ms McCarthy’s care.

Levin also testified he believed the infant did not die from Hyperimmunoglobulin E Syndrome, also known as Job’s Syndrome. “That is not what the kid had,” Dr Levin said.

The child did have bruising before the incident and the child had experienced large shifts in her sodium balance which could have caused some of the haemorrhages outside the body, but not those within the eye tissue, he continued.

Dr Levin also testified to the child’s other illnesses and ailments, such as trouble with gastro-intestinal reflux, alopecia - a type of hair loss - and eczema.

Under cross-examination, defence attorney David Meier asked Dr Levin about a notation in his report which asked “Could this be Job’s Syndrome?”

“That is my thought process. I was talking to myself, asking myself a question that I’d like to have answered,” replied Dr Levin.

Such a determination would have to be made in collaboration with review by an immunologist, he said.

As of midday the hearing was ongoing.

Ms McCarthy’s defence attorneys were expected to continue to press Dr Levin so as to raise additional doubts about his conclusions.

Middlesex County superior court judge Maureen Hogan has set April 22nd, 2015, for the trial.