8. Michelle Heale
On August 28, 2012, 43-year-old Michelle Heale was babysitting 14-month-old Mason Hess. According to Heale, the young boy began choking on applesauce. She tried to provide assistance, but the baby soon became limp.
He was taken to the hospital where he died four days later. After performing an autopsy, the medical examiner ruled the death a homicide caused by blunt cerebral trauma. The child also had a severed spine. Heale, the mother of twins, was charged with murder and endangering the welfare of a child.
During the trial, the prosecutors claimed that Heale shook the baby to death. Heale took the stand in her own defense and maintained her innocence. She testified that when the baby began choking, she hit him on the back. Then she quickly took him off her shoulder without supporting his head, which caused his head to snap back.
The jury did not believe Heale’s version of events and convicted her of manslaughter and child endangerment. During her sentencing hearing, Heale protested that the theory of shaken baby syndrome was flawed. The judge was unimpressed, stating that Heale was unwilling to accept responsibility for her actions. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison.