Defense lawyers: review Hayne cases

Published 12:12am Monday, June 17, 2013

JACKSON (AP) — Some defense lawyers are calling for an independent review of cases involving a pathologist whose testimony prompted the Mississippi Supreme Court to overturn two convictions.

Tucker Carrington, head of the Mississippi Innocence Project, is among those calling for a review of cases in which Dr. Steven Hayne testified.

“What needs to happen is the attorney general, the Mississippi Supreme Court or the Legislature need to appoint an inspector general or independent counsel to handle it,” he said.

Hayne lacks national board certification in forensic pathology. In 2008 the state dropped him from its list of recommended pathologists to handle autopsies.

He said he’s not worried by the idea of an independent review. “I don’t think I’ve misstated anything,” he said.

State Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, chairman of the Judiciary B Committee, agrees with Carrington. “Our experience with Dr. Hayne is extremely troubling, and there needs to be a look at anything he is involved in,” he said.

Attorney General Jim Hood said through a spokeswoman that his office has reviewed “the cases which have been brought to our attention.”

The conviction most recently overturned by the state Supreme Court’s was that of David Parvin, a former Mississippi State University professor convicted in 2011 of murder.

The prosecution’s firearms expert was unable to conclude how far away it was fired, but Hayne testified the blast was fired from about 4 feet. Jurors should never have heard Hayne’s “speculative” testimony, the court found.

Hayne defends his work in that case.

Hayne’s testimony was also used in the case of Jeffrey Havard, who was convicted of killing a 6-month-old child nearly a decade ago.

The case began Feb. 21, 2002, at Havard’s residence, which he shared with his girlfriend, Rebecca Britt, and her infant daughter, Chloe.

In Havard’s court filing, he claims that while he was giving the baby a bath, she was slippery and that he dropped the baby with her head hitting a toilet in the bathroom. When the baby appeared to be in shock, Havard shook her in a panic to revive her, and he stopped and began to comfort her after she began to cry. Dressing her after becoming convinced she was OK, he placed the baby in her bed.

Later, Rebecca would find Chloe blue and not breathing, and the two drove her to Natchez Community Hospital.

While medical personnel were trying to revive the baby, a nurse seeking to take her temperature using a rectal thermometer noticed Chloe’s anus was dilated, and law enforcement was called on the suspicion that sexual abuse had occurred.

An autopsy by the former state pathologist, Steven Hayne, concluded that Chloe had died of “a combination of closed head injury and changes consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome.”

Havard was tried and convicted in December 2002 on charges of capital murder during the course of sexual battery.