Infant murder case collapses after key evidence goes missing

A Newfoundland and Labrador man facing a second-degree murder charge in the death of his infant son has seen the charges withdrawn because a key piece of evidence - the baby's brain – can no longer be found.

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Thomas Michel of Sheshatshiu First Nation was charged in November 2013 with second-degree murder in the death of his son, Matthew Rich.

The prosecution team had planned to call experts in forensic pathology and neuropathology to testify as witnesses in the case, the province’s justice department said in a news release.

The experts required access to the baby's brain so they could examine it and provide opinions for the prosecution. But the Chief Medical Examiner's office could not locate the brain of the infant.

They say the brain is presumed to have been destroyed.

Without the brain evidence, the province’s Public Prosecutions office said “there was no longer a reasonable likelihood of conviction.” As such, the decision was made to withdraw the second-degree murder charge.

“This was not an easy decision for Public Prosecutions to make and was only made after lengthy consultations with the expert witnesses,” the justice department said in its statement.

“…The Public Prosecutions Division of the Department of Justice and Public Safety expresses its sincerest condolences to the family of Matthew Rich.”


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