Justice:Denied is a magazine that brings awareness to those who claim wrongful conviction in the United States. I wrote to them today in the hopes that they might be able to publish a story about Elizabeth Burke.
Here are the basics:
In the afternoon on October 14, 2002, Elizabeth Burke went into her bedroom in her trailer at 1910 Red Bluff, Pasadena, Texas to check on her sleeping seven-week-old son, Ian. When she picked him up, the pacifier fell from his mouth and she realized he wasn’t breathing. She immediately took him and ran to a neighbor’s house where 9-1-1 was called and CPR was performed.
The ambulance never showed up and police transported Ian halfway to the hospital before transferring him to an ambulance en route. This was not supposed to happen and the first responders got in trouble thereafter for these actions.
A neighbor Elizabeth had never met before told the police two days after her son’s death that Elizabeth admitted to smothering her son with a blanket. Elizabeth denies this since she didn’t know the woman. That same woman agreed to be wired by police to secure Elizabeth’s “confession” on tape. Elizabeth maintains that this woman wrote a statement on a paper admitting she killed her son and told her to read it. The neighbor’s husband was a volunteer fire fighter in Pasadena who could have been fired for the lack of responders at the scene – in fact, he was fired not too long after the incident.
The medical examiner on Elizabeth’s case, Paul Shrode, admits at trial that there was no “smoking gun” in the case to determine how Ian died, but that ruling everything else out led him to believe he was smothered by her. The lack of petechia hemorrhaging anywhere on the baby, however, goes to prove that he was not smothered, though.
Shrode, himself, has since been found to have lied on multiple resumes and failed his pathology boards the very year he testified in Elizabeth’s trial (2003). Her son was born with multiple health issues, including a condition known as pyloric stenosis which he had surgery to correct a mere week before his death. While the autopsy report shows blood in the stomach, Shrode never went anywhere with this finding.
Elizabeth’s defense attorney, Tyrone Moncriffe, did her no favors at trial, allowing an alleged “taped confession” to be admitted, allowing a mother and her daughter to serve on the jury without a veto, bringing in a forensic pathology “expert” who hadn’t practiced in nearly 40 years, and moving forward in the trial with no strategy for getting her off.
Elizabeth was sentenced to 77 years in prison with the possibility of parole in 2030.
Now I wait to see if I get a response!