Wrongly Convicted Database Record

 

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Richard Brant

 

Charge:

Assault - Aggravated (including causing bodily harm)

Sentence:

6 months

Years Imprisoned:

0.25

Year Crime:

1992

Year Convicted:

1995

Year Cleared:

2011

U.S. State or Country of Crime:

Canada

County or Region of Crime:

Ontario

City of Crime:

Belleville

Result:

Judicially Exonerated

Summary of Case:

"Richard Brant was wrongly convicted of manslaughter in the death of his 9-week old son Dustin Brant on November 18, 1992 at a Kingston General Hospital in Belleville, Ontario. Dr. Sukrita Nag performed Dustin's autopsy and determined he died due to complications from pneumonia. However, Brant was arrested on April 22, 1993 and charged with manslaughter, based on the report by Dr. Charles Smith on April 15, 1993 that Dustin exhibited the classic symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome, and that his shaking by Brant had led to his death. At the time Dr. Smith was considered Ontario’s leading pediatric forensic pathologist. To avoid a length sentence if convicted after a trial with Dr. Smith as the prosecution's star witness, Brant agreed to pled guilty to aggravated assault in exchange for a six to nine month sentence. Brant pled guilty on April 21, 1995 and was sentenced to six months in custody. A decade later Smith's evidence in cases was coming under close scrutiny as being unreliable. On June 7, 2005 Dr. Barry McLellan – then the Chief Coroner for Ontario – announced in a press release that a formal review would be conducted into Smith’s work on 45 cases involving suspicious deaths of children. Brant's was one of those cases. In May 2007, Brant was informed by the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted that experts who reviewed Dustin’s death agreed that there was no evidence suggesting that Brant had harmed his son. With AIDWYC's assistance, in January 2009 the Ontario Court of Appeal granted Richard leave to reopen his case. Brant and the prosecution jointly requested that the appeals court acquit him. 'On May 4, 2011 the Ontario Court of Appeal quashed Brant's conviction and acquitted him based on three factors: First, the medical professions understanding of Shaken Baby Syndrome had changed considerably since Brant's conviction in 1995; Second, Smith had been “unfairly critical” of Dr. Nag’s work, and “the loss of important tissue sample…should have had a significant impact on … [Smith’s] diagnosis.”; and, third, new expert evidence established two possible natural explanations for Dustin’s death: “idiopathic cardiorespiratory arrest” (a heart attack of unknown cause); and, a “blood clot in the cerebral sinus” (which is a channel that normally drains blood from the brain)."

Conviction Caused By:

Unreliable expert evidence by Dr. Charles Smith.

Innocence Proved By:

"On May 4, 2011 the Ontario Court of Appeal quashed Brant's conviction and acquitted him based on three factors: First, the medical professions understanding of Shaken Baby Syndrome had changed considerably since Brant's conviction in 1995; Second, Smith had been “unfairly critical” of Dr. Nag’s work, and “the loss of important tissue sample…should have had a significant impact on … [Smith’s] diagnosis.”; and, third, new expert evidence established two possible natural explanations for Dustin’s death: “idiopathic cardiorespiratory arrest” (a heart attack of unknown cause); and, a “blood clot in the cerebral sinus” (which is a channel that normally drains blood from the brain)."

Defendant Aided By:

Compensation Awarded:

Was Perpetrator Identified?

Age When Imprisoned:

22

Age When Released:

23

Sex:

Skin/Ethnicity:

White

Information Source 1:

"Richard Brant case profile, By Sarah Harland-Logan, AIDWYC website (Toronto, Canada)"

Information Location 1:

http://aidwyc.createtoconvert.com/cases/historical/richard-brant/

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Innocents Database Created and Maintained by Hans Sherrer innocents@forejustice.org

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