Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

Boston Baby’s Death Brings Murder Charges And Jail To Senior MIT Staffer

“Sam….what gives? You tell us that the next day’s Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog is going to be an unhappy one and then you disappear for the rest of the week? You call this “daily“???”

I know, I know…sorry about that. Sometimes my responsibilities to my clients necessitate my irregular definition of the term “daily”. But, late as it may be…here is the tragic story to which I referred.

It is the tale of Geoffrey W., 31, an MIT staffer from Malden (hereinafter, the “Defendant”).

Last week, the Defendant was arrested in connection with the death of his 6-month-old son, according to Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone. He stands charged with murder

No, not simply just some kind of homicide…murder.

The Defendant, a senior contracts and intellectual property manager for the MIT Media Lab, isaccused of killing his only son by way of shaken baby syndrome .
”The injury, according to the doctor, was consistent with extreme violent shaking,” announced the prosecutor assigned to the case. ”The doctors don’t see it as any other injury than shaken baby syndrome.”

The Defendant, however, says that it was an innocent effort to get his infant to stop crying. He held his son in the air, playing with him to make him feel as if he were riding in a car and feeling the bumps of the road, simulating an activity that helped to keep him calm. He told investigators that he was alone with the boy after his wife went to church. The boy had eaten and was, ”a little fussy, a little cranky.” He continued that he had lifted the boy to simulate a car ride. He explained that ”I didn’t think it was gentle, but it wasn’t more than gentle”.

The Defendant said he then put the boy down to rest. When his wife returned home, she noticed the child’s lips were blue and that he was unresponsive.

The Commonwealth alleges that, while the Defendant’s wife wanted to call 911, the Defendant said they should wait. He tried to call the baby’s doctor, but got no response. Then, the Defendant drove the child to Children’s Hospital Boston himself, rather than calling an ambulance.

According to the Commonwealth, preliminary reports indicate the infant suffered non-accidental injuries and trauma. The cause and manner of death are under investigation by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the Malden Police and the Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.

He was held without bail after his arraignment at Malden District Court after pleading “not guilty”.

Attorney Sam’s Take:

Nope. Nothing fun nor funny about this one.

First of all, let’s look at the apparently fatal event itself. According to the Defendant, and there is apparently nothing yet to contradict the claim, he was playing “bumpy car ride” with the baby. Now, granted, there is a question as to how roughly this play was and it would appear that the Commonwealth will claim that it was too rough, thereby causing the death of the child.

The game, in and of itself, is not a criminal act. It is one which many parents play with their infants for either fun or to calm the child. The result here is what appears to make this criminal. There is a question as to whether the father was too rough.

Again, there is nothing to indicate that the father was intending to hurt the child, was indifferent to the child, was ignoring the child or meant to kill the child.

In fact, according to the Commonwealth, the matter is still being investigated by no less than three government agencies.

But, one thing has been established – the child died.

Now, let’s look at the Defendant. Is he a threat to humanity who must be kept off the streets while the investigation is pending lest he kill again or flee the country?

Well, he sounds fairly stable. He is married, an MIT alum who currently works at the school’s Media Lab as a senior intellectual property and contracts administrator. Strong community ties, and educated man who is in a position of great responsibility who, it would appear, does not spend his time shaking the local kids to death.

So…if this man may have accidently caused the death of his own child and the matter is still under investigation…why is he being held in jail with no bail while the Commonwealth tries to figure out how this is an actual crime…no less what crime it really is.

“But, Sam, aren’t defendants charged with Murder One usually held without bail?”

They sure are. But this case? Premeditated murder? Does it sound like that to you? I mean, particularly calling in old-fashioned notions like “presumption of innocence” and “beyond a reasonable doubt?”

Maybe you are thinking more clearly than me on a rainy Monday morning…but I do not see it.
There is one thing I do see though…and it is something that I see, and point out to you, a lot.

Particularly in cases in which there is media attention, there is pressure on the Commonwealth to instantly solve the crime and, if possible, lock the accused up. After all, one would never want to appear “soft on crime”…no matter the circumstances. Especially when one is in a political position such as District Attorney.

After all, there is no such thing as an accident when the results are so tragic, right?

The bottom line? It is yet another example that if you might be accused of a criminal act, or an act which results in something usually thought of to be criminal…you may well lose your liberty forthwith while the authorities figure out what happened.

This is why I tell you to get an experienced defense attorney immediately. You cannot simply trust the promises of law enforcement made to get a statement from you. You cannot assume that “common sense” will dictate that you remain free.

Remember the realities of what our criminal justice system has become…not simply the platitudes under which it was formed.

As always, if you are facing such a situation and wish to discuss it with me, please feel free to contact me at 617-492-3000.

To find the original story upon which this story is based, please go to http://www.wickedlocal.com/cambridge/news/x2102347966/MIT-staffer-arrested-for-death-of-infant-son and http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/cambridge/2010/03/mit_employee_charged_in_infant.html?comments=all

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