Read: Summary of the Case
A pathologist has uncovered evidence implying that a confession which led to the Pennsylvania conviction of Bryant Arroyo for the murder of eight-month-old Jordan Shenk, may have been fabricated by police -as it is at variance with the medical evidence in the case.
California-based pathologist and toxicologist, Dr. Mohammed Al-Bayati also found that the infant suffered a congenital birth defect which directly caused his death. The unfortunate infant was not murdered after all, but actually choked on his own vomit as a result of persistent gastric reflux linked to a failing metabolism, says Dr. Al-Bayati in a just-published report.
"This man is innocent. Society should jump. The media should jump," he told BreakForNews.com in an exclusive interview [mp3]. "It could happen to anybody."
On 10 May 1995, Bryant Arroyo was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole after Dr. Wayne K. Ross, forensic pathologist of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, testified that baby Jordan Shenk was killed by blunt trauma to the chest and abdomen, and that the manner of death was homicide.
The baby's mother was living with Mr. Arroyo at the time. He has consistently maintained that his only act was to try revive the infant using mouth-to-mouth/chest compression cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
However, detectives Mathias and Solt from the Manheim Township Police Department presented in evidence an eight-page confession typed by Det. Solt. They alleged that Bryant confessed to them that he held the infant and punched him because he was angry with his cousin at the time, and took it out on the baby.
But Dr. Al-Bayati's review of the medical evidence found that tissue sections from the bruises did not show significant white blood cell infiltration, indicating they could not have resulted as described in the alleged confession offered by the police. Various types of injuries in the chest and abdomen have been reported in patients receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation, reports Dr. Al-Bayati.
His review also notes that lung tissue sections showed evidence of inhalation of vomit prior to death. Yet Dr. Wayne K. Ross did not reveal this in court when he testified, despite the fact that this substantiated a predictable asphixiation as the cause of the infant's death.
In fact, the baby's distress arose from the inevitable result of propionic acidemia, a usually fatal congenital metabolic defect. Dr. Al-Bayati found that Jordan suffered from spongiosis of the cerebrum; aspiration pneumonitis; thymus atrophy; inflammation of the liver, gallbladder and mesentery; and severe weight loss. He describes how babies with these health problems are known to suffer cardiac problems and bleedings.
"These are the factual causes of Jordan’s cardiac arrest and bleedings," asserts Dr. Al-Bayati. "And not blunt trauma as alleged by the medical examiner and the police."
Dr. Al-Bayati routinely acts as an expert toxicological witness in civil cases, and has used his differential diagnosis technique on other infanticide cases -including that of Alan Yurko, imprisoned in Florida on similar charges, and now freed.
His review of the medical evidence in the Bryant Arroyo case came after a prisoner advocacy group, Families United for Justice, requested his assistance.
President of the group, Nancy Garcia, is now seeking a lawyer to act pro-bono and present the new evidence in a fresh legal hearing.
Read: Al-Bayati's Case Summary
Listen: Audio Interview
Nancy Garcia, Mohammed al-Bayati