A California man has been released from prison after a judge resentenced him to a lesser offense in the death of his son due to the changing science behind “shaken baby syndrome,” The Associated Press reports.
Clifton Jones was released from Soledad State Prison, where he spent 15 years after a 2005 conviction for involuntary manslaughter and child abuse, this month. He was serving a prison sentence of 25 years to life.
Jones’s defense argued during his trial that he had tripped and fallen into a wall while holding his infant, resulting in the baby’s death.
But two experts testified that the damage done to the baby’s head was indicative of shaken baby syndrome and was not accidental.
While shaken baby syndrome was once to have a telltale pattern of injuries, experts now say the symptoms associated with it are not as cut-and-dried and can result from other trauma, including a fall.
“We do note that the scientific research underlying what was once called ‘Shaken Baby Syndrome’ has changed significantly over the past several years,” Sacramento County Chief Deputy District Attorney Rod Norgaard told the AP.
He added, “After reviewing the procedural history, the facts underlying the conviction and Mr. Jones’ initiative at rehabilitation while incarcerated, we requested the court recall the sentence and resentence the defendant. The court likewise reviewed the matter and agreed.”
The district attorney’s office not not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.
Jones’s sentence was lessened to child endangerment, which carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison. As he had already served his term, he was immediately released. “The mistake that was made was finally put right,” Jones told the AP.