WOBURN, Mass. — Lawyers for an Irish nanny accused of killing a Massachusetts baby said Thursday that medical experts hired by prosecutors have concluded the child suffered bone fractures weeks before her death when she was not in the nanny’s care.
Aisling Brady McCarthy’s lawyers said in a written motion that prosecutors recently gave them reports from two medical experts — one at Children’s Hospital in Boston and the other at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami — who found that compression fractures to Rehma Sabir’s spine were inflicted three to four weeks before her death in January 2013. The motion asks Judge S. Jane Haggerty to order prosecutors to give McCarthy’s lawyers any other records and information related to the medical reports on the earlier injuries.
During a pretrial hearing, also Thursday, McCarthy lawyer David Meier said the baby was “literally on the other side of the globe,” traveling overseas with her mother during that time and not under McCarthy’s care.
Several weeks later, Rehma was taken to the hospital with severe head injuries on her first birthday. She died two days later. Prosecutors allege McCarthy was the baby’s only caretaker when the fatal injuries were inflicted.
Prosecutors did not immediately respond to the claims made by McCarthy’s lawyers. The judge scheduled a hearing on the defense motion for Jan. 14, when she said she will also hear the defense request to release McCarthy on bail while she awaits her trial, scheduled to begin April 7.
MaryBeth Long, a spokeswoman for Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, declined to comment specifically on the defense claims regarding the baby’s earlier injuries, but said prosecutors will respond in writing and during the hearing next week.
“This is an important case and it will be tried in court,” Long said.
Elliot Weinstein, a lawyer who represents the baby’s parents, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
McCarthy’s lawyers have previously complained that prosecutors presented information about the earlier bone fractures to the grand jury that indicted her, but offered no evidence linking McCarthy to those injuries. Attorney Melinda Thompson said during a hearing in September that prosecutors put evidence of the bone fractures before the grand jury “to make it seem like my client was abusing this child.”
Prosecutors have said that none of the witnesses who testified before the grand jury expressed an opinion on the cause of the bone fractures.
In the motion filed Thursday, the defense said the state’s own experts have now concluded – a year after McCarthy was charged – that compression fractures to 10 of Rehma’s thoracic vertebral bones were inflicted during a time when the baby was not with McCarthy.
The girl’s parents told police that McCarthy had been their nanny for about six months, caring for the baby in their apartment in Cambridge, just outside Boston. McCarthy lived in nearby Quincy.
Prosecutors have said that Dr. Alice Newton, medical director of the Child Protection Team at Boston Children’s Hospital, diagnosed the girl as a victim of abusive head trauma, which she said includes injuries caused by violent shaking and by striking the head or causing the head to strike another object or surface.
After McCarthy’s arrest, immigration officials said she was in the U.S. illegally after arriving from Ireland in 2002 under a program that authorized her to stay 90 days.