No longer a 'baby killer'
Woman wins her 10-year battle to beat evidence of shamed doc
Last Updated: December 8, 2009 5:34am
Sherry Sherret-Robinson no longer carries the title of baby killer.
Yesterday, the Ontario Court of Appeal acquitted her of infanticide charges laid after the death of her four-month-old baby, Joshua, in 1999. Sherret-Robinson, of Trenton, was convicted largely by false testimony given by disgraced pathologist Dr. Charles Smith.
"This is a huge sigh of relief to finally have this behind me. (Baby killer) stays with you no matter where you go," Sherret-Robinson, 34, said. "The acquittal means a lot. It has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. Now I don't have to continue to say, 'I didn't do it.' It is just a relief to be a normal person."
After the charges in 1999, the Children's Aid Society took her son Austin, who was adopted.
Austin is now 15 and Sherret-Robinson legally can't see him until he is 18 -- and only if the teen wishes to meet her.
"I hope he will know the truth, but that isn't up to me; it is up to his adoptive parents. I would give anything to get him back," Sherret-Robinson said.
Smith testified Joshua was smothered and said he found a skull fracture and neck haemorrhages.
In 2006, Joshua's body was exhumed and three pathologists refuted Smith's findings and went as far as to say the neck haemorrhages were caused by Smith during the autopsy. The three experts concluded Joshua died because of "a hazardous sleeping environment" containing too many blankets that bunched up around his head in a make-shift crib.
"If what we know today we knew back then, she wouldn't have been convicted. Thirteen years ago her baby died and she spent a year in jail as a baby killer," said her lawyer, James Lockyer. "She has lost two children and has had to live with this for so long."
An inquiry into 20 of Smith's cases where people were wrongfully convicted revealed he believed in family values.
"I know there were other victims of Smith. Hopefully I can be a support for them," Sherret-Robinson said.
Sherret-Robinson -- who spent a year in jail -- was the subject of a miscarriage of justice, Justice Mark Rosenburg said.
"It's no surprise to anyone that you are being acquitted. Experts found serious errors and found Dr. Smith's findings wrong," Rosenburg said. "The child's death was compounded by the mother being wrongfully convicted and spending a year in jail and the loss of her other child."
Sherret-Robinson said she isn't looking for financial compensation and having her name cleared is enough.
She's expecting a baby girl in April and has another daughter named Madison.
LEGACY OF PAIN
THE FLAWED SCIENCE OF DR. CHARLES SMITH
Sherry Sherret-Robinson is just one victim of the flawed science of disgraced pathologist Dr. Charles Smith who routinely lied under oath at trials.
His work sparked an inquest into dozens of cases where he helped wrongfully convict the innocent.
Here are a few examples:
- William Mullins-Johnson spent 12 years in jail after Dr. Charles Smith wrongfully testified in 1994 he strangled and sexually assaulted his young niece. Smith lost evidence in the case but still helped convict Mullins-Johnson. Smith didn't perform an autopsy but testified the girl had been sodomized. Other pathologists determined the little girl died of natural causes. Mullins-Johnson was the first to have his conviction overturned by the Ontario Court of Appeal in October 2007.
- Brenda Waudby was arrested in 1997 after her toddler died. She was charged with beating her little girl to death, but a male baby sitter later confessed. During the toddler's autopsy, Smith found a pubic hair in the toddler's vagina but didn't turn the evidence over to police for five years. He also didn't perform a standard rape kit, which would have convicted the baby sitter.
- Roy Simmons was also wrongfully convicted. In 1993, he was feeding formula to his grandson, who had a history of choking and stopped breathing. Smith convinced a jury the baby suffered head injuries and Simmons went to jail for seven years until a review cleared his name.
- Louise Reynolds was charged in 1997 with killing her seven-year-old daughter. Smith testified that Reynolds stabbed her daughter to death 82 times with a pair of scissors. Other pathologists later determined the little girl had been mauled to death by a neighbour's pit bull.