April 14 2016

Babysitter Accused of Killing 6-Month-Old by Shaking Disputes Case

By: Rich Hosford

A Burlington woman who was charged with the killing of a 6-month-old girl who was under her care by shaking has been released from house arrest and is hoping the charges against her will be dropped. 


NECN reports that a Supreme Judicial Court Justice removed Pallavi Macharli from house arrest after new findings surfaced in the case.


The new finding is a report from Dr. Anna McDonald, who performed the autopsy on six-month-old Ridhima Dhekane and determined the baby died from abusive head trauma and excessive shaking last month said she was no longer convinced the death was a homicide. After reviewing reports from the defense she said she now believes the child died from cardiac arrest. 


As reported on BNEWS, authorities say that on Thursday, March 27, 2014, Ridhima was left in the care of a neighbor,  Macharla, who regularly provided child care for the baby. It is alleged that at approximately 2:40 p.m, Macharla called the baby’s mother to say the baby was not breathing.


The mother drove to Macharla’s home and saw Macharla performing mouth-mouth respirations on her daughter who was limp and nonresponsive. The mother immediately called 911. 


The defendant reported that the baby became unresponsive after vomiting following a feeding. First responders arriving at the residence on Baron Park Lane in Burlington found the baby unresponsive, pulseless, and apneic. The child was transported by ambulance to Lahey Hospital and then to Boston Children’s Hospital where she was pronounced dead on March 30, 2014.


Macharla was arrested a year later based on the medical examiner’s report. 


Despite McDonald’s change of opinion, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said her office will continue to prosecute the case as a homicide. She said in a statement that the “Chief Medical Examiner of the Commonwealth remains firm that the baby’s cause of death is 'blunt force trauma and shaking injuries' and the manner of death is homicide. Under the circumstances, it is appropriate for a jury to decide this case."


This is the third time in recent years when a medical examiner changed his or her finding in a “shaken baby” case. The other two instances led to the charges being dropped. 


Macharli, who has two children of her own, maintains that she is innocent. She said this week that she loved the baby and would never have done anything to harm her. 

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