Ohio Lawmakers To Debate Bill That Would Change Shaken Baby Penalties
A baby's life and death struggle after being the victim of shaken baby syndrome could now change criminal penalties in Ohio.
"It is the most devastating thing ever," said Randi Shepherd, mother of Destiny. "To sit and be told that your daughter was abused by somebody."
Randi Shepherd's 16 month old daughter Destiny was violently shook and slammed into a wall by Shepherd's boyfriend.
At the hospital, doctors told Shepherd that her daughter "would never make it" and that she would potentially die.
After two weeks in a coma, Destiny woke up, but with a severe brain injury.
"Everything she does now is different age groups," said Shepherd. "Sometimes a 2 year old, or a 1 year old."
Shepherd's boyfriend - Terrance King - was charged and convicted of felonious assault.
He was sentenced to eight years in prison and will be released later this year. Had Destiny's Law been on the books when he was convicted, he would be staying in prison for up to another 10 years.
"She gets a life sentence and he gets to walk away free," said Shepherd.
That has lead Shepherd to advocate Destiny's Law. If passed it would establish an additional mandatory prison term of five to 10 years if someone is convicted of a felony offense and the victim suffered permanent disabling harm.
"She'll save a lot of people, that's how I look at it," said Shepherd. "It's just sad that it had to take something like this to have a law."
While lawmakers debate the penalty part of shaken baby syndrome, hospitals like Riverside continue their ongoing education efforts on the preventative side.
"I think shaken baby syndrome is more prevalent than people think," said Heather Mcgurer, a Riverside nurse. "It's easy for new parents to get stressed out in a situation where they're feeling frustrated and overwhelmed."
Riverside adopted a policy over a decade ago where new parents are shown a demonstration of what they can do if they're feeling frustrated.
And each new parent signs a “commitment statement” before they leave.
"It hasn't increased in prevalence, but we've become more aware of it," said Mcgurer.