Massachusetts prosecutors have dropped a murder charge against a former MIT Media Lab worker who was accused of killing his 6-month-old son, Nathan, at his home in 2010. District Attorney Marian Ryan’s office wrote in a court filing that the case against Geoffrey Wilson, 36, could not go forward after the state medical examiner and prosecutors received new information about the victim’s medical history.
That history, which the parents did not know about at the time, could have “played a role” in Nathan Wilson’s death. After genetic testing of relatives, a review of medical records, and consultation with specialists, the medical examiner revised his finding on the manner of death from homicide to “could not be determined”.
Wilson’s lawyer J.W. Carney Jr. said last month that Nathan’s mother and grandmother have a rare genetic defect that can cause weaknesses in collagen, which makes a person more susceptible to artery and vein ruptures. These are considered one of the three “telltale signs” of shaken baby syndrome.
“It was every parent’s nightmare when Geoff Wilson was charged with murdering” his son, Carney said, “All five of our medical experts offered the opinion that Nathan Wilson had died of natural causes and not Shaken Baby Syndrome.”
Ryan said that the medical examiner initially ruled that the cause of death was shaking, but “as the case proceeded, defense counsel presented new information…previously unknown to both the Commonwealth and the child’s parents…That information led Dr. [Peter] Cummings…to revise his prior findings.”
Ryan said the charge was dropped in the interest of justice.
The Wilson case is being looked at by the defense attorneys representing Aisling McCarthy Brady currently charged with the 2013 shaking death of a 1-year-old she was caring for. McCarthy’s lawyers are seeking to bar the testimony of Dr. Alice Newton, a specialist on child abuse, who determined that 1-year-old Rehma Sabir died of abusive head trauma, also known as shaken baby syndrome. Newton had the same opinion in the Wilson case.
“The opinions expressed by Dr. Newton in the Wilson case are strikingly similar to those expressed by her in this case,’’ McCarthy’s lawyers have said in court papers.
Melinda Thompson, a lawyer for McCarthy, said that she “sincerely hope[s]” that the decision in the Wilson case to drop all charges helps McCarthy. McCarthy’s lawyers maintain that the child suffered injuries weeks before her death when she was not under McCarthy’s care.