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posted: 3/9/2011 12:10 PM

Harvey teen dies of shaken baby syndrome

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Associated Press

CHICAGO -- A 17-year-old suburban girl who was shaken as a baby in 1993 has died from the injuries she suffered.

Authorities in Cook County say Makeda Oyeyinka of Harvey had spent most of her life in state care after suffering from shaken baby syndrome. She died Monday at Rush University Medical Center.

The Cook County medical examiner's office ruled her death a homicide. An autopsy showed that she died from lack of oxygen to the brain from blunt head trauma years ago, pneumonia and complications from diabetes.

The teen's mother was charged with felony aggravated battery in 1993 for the attack on her daughter but was later acquitted.

Robert Loeb, a criminal defense attorney who teaches at DePaul University's law school, told the Chicago Tribune that the woman can't be charged and tried a second time for the same crime.

"They would have to charge the defendant did something different from the act for which she was acquitted," he told the newspaper.

Shaken baby syndrome, also known as abusive head trauma, refers to brain injuries caused by shaking infants violently. Some legal experts dispute the diagnosis but most major medical organizations say it is real.

It has been estimated that at least 1,400 U.S. infants are victims of shaken baby syndrome each year.

According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, about 20 percent of victims die within the first few days of being injured. Most survivors are left with handicaps that can include severe mental damage and permanent vegetative state.

Dr. Mary Case, a center advisor and medical examiner for St. Louis County in Missouri, said she has handled cases similar to Oyeyinka's death, and cases that result in new charges.

"While these are not very common, they do occur," Case said.

In a case that made headlines last year, a Florida man was charged in the death of his brain-damaged 19-year-old daughter, who he'd been convicted of shaking when she was a baby.

He pleaded no contest to the upgraded charges and was sent to prison for 15 years.

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