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A judge on Friday reduced the sentence of a Burlington daycare operator accused of shaking a baby to death.
Middlesex Superior Court Judge Kenneth Fishman re-sentenced Pallavi Macharla to three-and-a-half to four years in state prison, reducing the life sentence given to her in May.
Macharla was initially convicted of second-degree murder in the death of 6-month-old Ridhima Dhekane, who died in her care. Fishman reduced the charge to involuntary manslaughter in August, citing conflicting autopsy reports.
The medical examiner for the case initially ruled Dhekane's injuries were consistent with being shaken. Months later, the same medical examiner concluded that those injuries could've been sustained during live-saving measures.
Marchala claimed the baby choked after vomiting.
During the Friday hearing, Macharla tearfully told the court she's been mourning since March 2014, when Dhekane died in her care.
Defense attorney J.W. Carney Jr. argued for a lighter sentence, saying anything more than a year would trigger deportation, separating Macharla from her two children. Fishman said that could not factor into his decision.
The court was packed with Macharla's supporters, including Bhalinder Singh. He said he was friends with both the Dhekane family and Macharla, and feels Macharla's sentence is unfair. Noting that prosecutors honed in on Macharla not calling 911, Singh said the idea of emergency services is not familiar to people in India.
"I know Pallavi is not used to that, this new culture," he said. "How can someone do bad to a kid when she's calling the mother, 'please come over, something bad has happened'? I mean, not calling 911 is not a crime if you don't know what to do."
During the trial, prosecutors said Macharla should've known better, since she was a trained doctor in India.
The Dhekane family declined to speak to reporters.
Macharla's defense team plans to appeal.
This segment aired on October 11, 2019.
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