Woman Jailed for 19 Years Is Free After Charges Were Dropped in 'Shaken Baby Syndrome' Case: Attorney

Kim Hoover-Moore, 58, exonerated in charges of "shaken baby syndrome"
Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Corrections

Franklin County Judge Carl Aveni granted the new trial request, vacated Kim Hoover-Moore’s conviction and ordered her immediate release, the AP reported.

An Ohio woman who spent 19 years in prison for allegedly killing a baby left in her care was released on Thursday after new evidence uncovered has led to the charges being dropped and her exoneration, according to a published report. 

Kim Hoover-Moore, 57, was found guilty in 2003 in the alleged murder and child endangerment of 9-month old Samaisha Benson, based on a coroner’s assessment that the child had died of "shaken baby syndrome," the Associated Press reported.

A new analysis earlier this year found that Benson had an older, undetected injury that could have led to the bleeding that killed the child, who had been in Hoover-Moore’s home daycare back in 2002, according to an affidavit signed by the former deputy Franklin County coroner. The new evidence pointed out that the injuries sustained had happened days before Hoover-Moore noticed problems with the baby according to a court filing requesting a new trial, the report said.

In the Feb. 18 affidavit, Dr. Patrick Fardal, former deputy Franklin County coroner said: “I cannot conclude at the present time that pathologically the injuries suffered by Samaisha definitely occurred within the time window that Ms. Hoover-Moore was in charge of her care,” he said. “The acute changes all occurred within a 4-5 day window before her death.”

Benson had been dropped off at Hoover-Moore’s Columbus home on Nov 29, 2002 by her father, according to Hoover-Moore’s motion for a new trial by attorney Kort Gatterdam.

Hoover-Moore called 911 after seeing the baby could not hold her head up and wasn't breathing properly. At Columbus Children's Hospital, the baby was diagnosed with "shaken baby syndrome." A CAT scan showed a skull fracture and internal brain bleeding. On Dec. 1, 2002, the baby died. 

The motion for a new trial included the baby’s medical records, radiology images, and the autopsy report, Newsweek reported.

Franklin County Judge Carl Aveni granted the new trial request, vacated Hoover-Moore’s conviction and ordered her immediate release, the AP reported.

Franklin County Prosecutor Gary Tyack previously represented Hoover-Moore and recused himself. A different prosecutor dismissed all charges “in the interest of justice.” The prosecutor and defense attorneys agreed in a court motion that the evidence at the time was sufficient to prosecute Hoover-Moore, the news outlet reported.

On Thursday, an attorney for Hoover-Moore said justice had been done after 19 years, Newsweek reported.

Joanna Sanchez, director of the Ohio Public Defender’s Wrongful Conviction Project was elated by the news. “The medical evidence proves what Ms. Hoover-Moore has always said: She is innocent,” she said. 

Shaken baby convictions have come under fire nationwide nationally as new evidence challenges the diagnosis, with multiple exonerations, Newsweek reported.

In April, a California man was freed after 15 years in prison after prosecutors and a judge agreed that the scientific research underlying shaken baby syndrome has changed significantly in recent years, the publication said.

Related Stories