The prosecution argued that Chloe’s cause of death was Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), and the manner of death was a homicide. The prosecution’s case was built primarily on the testimony provided by Dr. Steven Hayne and the ER staff that was present on the night Chloe died.
On February 22, 2002, Dr. Steven Hayne performed an autopsy on Chloe’s body. Dr. Hayne concluded that his autopsy ﬁndings were “consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome.” Dr. Hayne stated: “It would be consistent with a person violently shaking a small child. Not an incidental movement of a child, but violently shaking the child back and forth to produce the types of injuries that are described as shaken baby syndrome, which is a syndrome known for at least forty-ﬁve years now. . . .We’re talking about very violent shaking.” According to Dr. Hayne, at the time of Jeffrey’s trial, the child’s symptoms pointed clearly to SBS.
Dr. Hayne also provided testimony which worked to boost the prosecution’s claims of sexual assault. He testified that the child had a one-inch-long contusion on her rectum, which, he explained, was “consistent with penetration of the rectum with an object.” Hayne misspoke at trial with regard to the measurement of the contusion. His autopsy report lists that contusion as measuring one centimeter. It is important to note that the autopsy report made no mention of a sexual assault.
Dr. Hayne clarifies his opinion. He does not support prosecution's claims.
In April of 2009, Hayne provided a declaration stating that there was no sufficient evidence to conclude that a sexual assault had taken place. Hayne stated that the one centimeter contusion found in the infant's anus had numerous potential causes. Hayne concluded that there was absolutely no proof to suggest that Chloe's death was the result of any sexual act.
In June of 2013, an article was published in the Clarion Ledger newspaper regarding several cases, including Havard’s, involving the testimony of Dr. Steven Hayne. The article reads, in pertinent part: “At trial, [Hayne] testiﬁed the baby’s death was a homicide, consistent with shaken baby syndrome. But Hayne now disavows that conclusion, saying biochemical [sic] engineers believe shaking alone doesn't produce enough force to kill.”
This was the ﬁrst indication that Dr. Hayne was possibly backing away from his trial testimony regarding Shaken Baby Syndrome. Following publication of the above article, Havard’s counsel met with Dr. Hayne in order to ask him about the article and his opinions regarding Shaken Baby Syndrome in this case.
Dr. Hayne executed an Afﬁdavit in July of 2013, reiterating that he formed no deﬁnitive evidence of sexual abuse based upon his ﬁndings in the Havard case. With respect to Shaken Baby Syndrome, Hayne stated: “At trial, I testiﬁed that the cause of death of Chloe Britt was consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome. Recent advances in the ﬁeld of biomechanics demonstrate that shaking alone could not produce enough force to produce the injuries that caused the death of Chloe Britt. The current state of the art would classify those injuries as shaken baby syndrome with impact or blunt force trauma.” These statements were made with a reasonable degree of medical certainty.
Hayne clarified in another affidavit in August of 2014, that he specifically told prosecutors on more than one occasion prior to trial that he could not support a finding a sexual abuse. This information was withheld from the defense, which is a Brady violation.
Unfortunately, Steven Hayne's career has been tarnished by alleged misconduct. In August 2008, Mississippi barred Hayne from doing any more autopsies in the state. According to The Agitator, the Mississippi legislature passed a bill specifically aimed at keeping him from ever being used by prosecutors in the state again.
It is good to see Hayne making the effort to correct the errors he made in Jeffrey's case. Hopefully his efforts will be the first step in a long process to help repair the damage he has caused throughout his career.