Judge downgrades verdict for Indian-American woman in death of baby at daycare

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An Indian-American woman from Massachusetts who was facing a second degree murder conviction and life sentence for charges relating to violent shaking of a baby in her care, leading to its death, has been spared to serve a lower jail term.

Pallavi Macharla’s sentence would be reduced as a result of the judge changing her verdict from second-degree murder to ‘involuntary manslaughter,’ the Boston Globe reported.

Middlesex Superior Court Judge Kenneth Fishman said in his 17-page ruling Aug. 19, that, “This court cannot permit a verdict of second-degree murder to stand in the presence of such highly contested and inconsistent evidence,” the Boston Globe reported. Macharla was convicted this May 13, 2019, in the death of 6-month old Ridhima Dhekane more than five years ago in March 2014.

According to the Boston Globe, the four-week trial saw a number of medical experts presenting different theories about how Ridhima Dhekane died.

Macharla is a doctor by training from India, who ran an at-home day-care center.

According to news reports on the case, prosecutors contended Macharla shook Ridhima so hard that her brain bled. Macharla on the other hand, said the child had vomited soon after being fed home-made apple sauce and stopped breathing.

Though her defense wanted Macharla to be set free, the judge decided only on the reduced verdict, conceding that the Indian-American doctor had “no history of abusive behavior toward children in the past but rather was a patient, considerate, and loving caretaker of children,” the Globe quoted him saying in his report. The Judge added, “There is, however, a child who has tragically died, coupled with evidence of extraordinary internal injuries that some experts would attribute to abusive head trauma in the form of a shaking and/or a blow.”

As a result of this change in the verdict, Macharla’s life sentence will go down to around 5 years of incarceration, according to the Boston Globe.

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