May 9 2019

Burlington Woman Charged in Death of Baby Under Her Care Testifies in Court

By: Rich Hosford

The Burlington woman charged in the death of a 6-month-old girl who was under her care by shaking spoke in her own defense in court this week.


Pallavi Macharla, 44, said she tried to save six-month-old Ridhima after the baby started having difficulties breathing after being felt homemade applesauce that her mother had prepared.


“She wasn’t breathing, she had labored breathing, Macharla is quoted by CBS Boston as saying in Middlesex Superior Court. “All I was thinking was to bring her back to breathing.”


As reported on BNEWS, authorities say that on Thursday, March 27, 2014, Ridhima was left in the care of Macharla, a neighbor who regularly provided child care for the baby. 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 the babysitter performing mouth-mouth resuscitation on her daughter who was limp and unresponsive. The mother immediately called 911 and the baby was transported Lahey Hospital and then to Boston Children’s Hospital where she was pronounced dead three days later.


Middlesex District Attorney’s office contends that Marcharla caused the baby’s death by either shaking and/or blunt force trauma to the head. Prosecutors suggested in court that the caregiver may have become frustrated with the baby’s crying and shook her.


Marcharla maintained that the baby had stopped breathing after eating the applesauce and that she did all she could to save her. She said the applesauce was “not smooth” and had “very small pieces” of apple in it. She also testified that Ridhima was unusually tired that day and had take a longer nap than normal.


Dr. Anna McDonald, who performed an autopsy on the baby initially determined the baby died from abusive head trauma and excessive shaking but later said she was no longer convinced the death was a homicide. In 2016 she said that after reviewing reports from the defense she said she came to believe the child died from cardiac arrest.


However, her supervisor at the time, Dr. Henry Nields, testified he saw no signs of any disease or anything else that would explain the death. He said the autopsy suggests either impact with an object or multiple impacts, the Boston Globe reports.


If convicted of first-degree murder, Macharla faces life in prison without parole.


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