Jennifer Del Prete

The two previous posts highlight the tragedy of the innocent in prison. While i know that our criminal justice system is made up of human beings, most trying to do their best, it is infected with a win at all costs attitude in many places whose obligation should be to see that justice is done no matter the outcome.

The uncovered letter in the Medill post is a perfect example of this attitude. The lead detective being told that the first doctor to examine the baby did not believe it was “Shaken Baby” yet goes on to encourage the prosecution’s “hired gun” expert to find otherwise and expresses his personal  comfort in knowing that she would eventually make things “right”.

The expert in Del Prete specialty was investigating child abuse. She employed a power point in  Del Prete that she used in every one of her SBS cases. During the trial she had to apologize to the court when the power point presentation,  supposedly prepared for the Del Prete case,  had obviously been used in other cases despite her assurances to the contrary.

Over thirty people testified for Jennifer. More at sentencing. Each one swore that the Jennifer Del Prete would never harm an infant or anyone else. The woman who ran the day care, who had the most to lose, testified at trial and at sentencing, and stated each time she was absolutely sure Jennifer did not harm the infant.

Never in thirty three years of criminal practice have I been involved in a matter where the person charged with the offense was more obviously innocent of the charge. I represented Jennifer on appeal of her conviction. I was bound by the record and thus was stuck with the presumption that the  trial court was deemed to only have considered relevant evidence. This is a difficult presumption to overcome and the circumstances of the decedent generated an unbreachable wall of sympathy. 

I filed the petition for post conviction relief for Jennifer. It was dismissed in the first stage by the same trial judge as merit-less  As I never had subpoena power (due to the petition never being docketed under the statute)  I was unable to possibly uncover the letter recently found by Medill. The failure of the prosecution to turn over this letter was a breach of Jennifer’s due process rights as it obviously indicates that the first state “expert” did not see SBS in his observations. I wonder why that professional did not stick to his guns? I am going to venture to say pressure was applied by those who had to win at all costs. 

Jennifer Del Prete is innocent. It is not that she is not not guilty….She is innocent. It is not that the State failed to prove her guilty…it is that she is innocent. She has been in jail for years for doing nothing more than trying to save a sick baby in her care…a baby that had been abused by someone else at a prior time…Jennifer has a  child too…there are many victims in this case…Jennifer is one of them….

Thomas C. Brandstrader


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