A former nanny in the United States who, 37 years ago, rocked a 5-month-old baby so hard it caused permanent brain damage is charged with murder in the boy’s death at the age of 35 in 2019, and could be sentenced to life imprisonment.
Terry McKirchy, 59, now living in Texas, was arrested on July 2 after being charged with first degree murder in the death of Benjamin Dowling, prosecutors said this week.
The episode dates back to 1984. In July of that year, she was caring for Downlin at her home in Hollywood, Florida, when the boy was having difficulty breathing, authorities said. Her mother told investigators she immediately took the baby to hospital, where doctors found he was shaken so badly that it severed blood vessels connected to the brain. The baby was left with severe physical and mental disabilities throughout his life. McKirchy was then sentenced to 60 days in prison and on parole.
Broward County prosecutors this week said they filed a new case after the coroner who performed the autopsy on Dowling in Manatee County, Fla., Where he was living when he died, referred the case to the police.
Forensic experts estimated that “the death was directly caused by the 1984 injuries,” the prosecution said in a statement this week. “The facts speak for themselves,” the agency said, “and this case went to the jury, who determined it was a homicide.”
McKirchy, who is jailed in Fort Bend County, Texas, awaiting extradition to Florida, could face a life sentence if convicted. We don’t know if she has a lawyer. Broward’s public defender, who represented McKirchy in the 1980s, said on Tuesday (27) that he had no current record of her in their system.
In the 1985 trial, the former nanny did not contest the charges of attempted murder and serious child abuse, but pleaded not guilty (“no contest plea” in US criminal law).
“I knew I hadn’t done it,” she said at the time, according to the Miami Herald. “My conscience is clear. But I can’t face it anymore.” And he added: “[As pessoas] they look at me like I’m some kind of devil. “
In a statement released by the prosecution this week, Dowling’s parents, Rae and Joe Dowling, said they realized something was wrong with their son after Rae picked him up from McKirchy on July 3, 1984.
They said the boy had undergone several invasive operations, including implanting metal rods into his spine. When he was 18 months old, his parents said he had a feeding tube inserted into his abdomen, and he needed it for the rest of his life.
“Benjamin never developed beyond the level of a 5 month old baby,” the Dowlings said. “He never crawled, walked, talked, never fed on his own, never ate a burger or ice cream, could never tell us if he was itching or in pain. ‘he was wrong and hoped that we could satisfy his need.Benjamin never knew how much he was loved and could never tell others his love for them.
Translated by Luiz Roberto M. Gonçalves