The baby was convicted of death.Couple released from prison


Columbus, Georgia (AP) — Ashley and Albert Develbot were sitting in the same court. There, he was convicted of murdering his newborn daughter more than 10 years ago. The district attorney stopped by and apologized.

Even after the Georgia Supreme Court overturned their conviction last year, they were released from protracted charges when they sank to 37-year-old Ashley. The moment I thought, “This is happening.”

Develbot took his baby Mackenzie home two days after he was born in May 2008. About 12 hours later, they woke up in the middle of the night, noticed a bulge on their forehead, and said they hurried back to the hospital. Mackenzie died a few hours later. Her parents were arrested the next day.

The couple’s lawyers say the baby’s injury occurs naturally and her parents are in a hurry to make a decision at the expense of 12 years of their lives. Former prosecutors continue to be convinced of their guilt.

The case was overturned not because of new evidence, but because of the prosecutor’s statement in the trial and the failure of the defense lawyer’s appeal. The new district attorney has determined that it is not worth trying again.

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Debelbots met in South Korea while in the Army. Originally from Mississippi, Ashley was a sergeant in human resources. Originally from Palau in the Pacific Ocean, Albert was stationed there after serving in Iraq.

Ashley was already pregnant and planned to leave the army to become a full-time mother when Albert moved to Columbus in March 2008 to be stationed in Fort Benning. They got a townhouse, prepared their baby, and nicknamed her Mac before she was born.

Mackenzie was born on May 29th and died around 4am on June 1st. The next morning, an autopsy began, and that afternoon Develbot was arrested.

In a 2009 trial, state inspector General Dr. Lora Darrisaw testified that Mackenzie suffered a “very severe head injury”, causing skull fractures, cerebral edema, and bleeding. Based on the autopsy, there was no explanation for the accident, so Dariso decided that Mackenzie’s death was not a coincidence. The injury was “most consistent with the overwhelming type of force.”

Asked if Mackenzie’s injury could have occurred during childbirth, Dariso said it was “absolutely ridiculous.”

Her testimony was not refuted. Albert’s court lawyer did not call a medical expert. The lawyer who was planning to call Dr. Ashley was absent, and the judge refused the request for postponement.

Both Ashley and Albert testified that they were enthusiastic about their first parents. Neither said they hurt Mackenzie.

Melvin Tarver, who was in the cell with Albert on the first day of the trial, testified that Albert had gone out to “dope” that night, and when Ashley returned, she said she spanked the baby and left her. On the bed. It may have helped Albert by blaming Ashley, but Albert’s lawyer worked to undermine Tarver’s credibility through cross-examination. Both Debelbots testified that Mackenzie was laid down together.

The jury deliberated for about three hours before returning the conviction. Judge Doug Pouren sentenced both Develbots to life imprisonment.

The couple spent years seeking a new trial, claiming that Mackenzie’s injury could not have been caused by a blunt trauma.

Albert’s post-conviction lawyer, Carrie Sparring, said inspectors and other doctors often assume abuse as soon as the baby dies.

“I think it’s shocking to think that you can lose your child, especially for parents. The default diagnosis killed the child if it couldn’t be explained,” Sperling said.

Ashley’s post-conviction lawyer, A. James Anderson, said the “essential” of the state proceedings was that he was in good health when Mackenzie was discharged.

“Pulling out the linchpin will cause the case to crumble,” he said.

Dr. Daniel Sirline gave another explanation at a hearing about the movement of the new exam. Before birth, a blood clot formed in Mackenzie’s brain, blocking the circulation of blood and cerebrospinal fluid, causing bleeding. It created pressure to push the developing skull. The skull was unusually thin and improperly formed in some places. The process of childbirth further damaged the skull and caused bleeding under the scalp.

Dr. Peter Denell testified that Mackenzie may have looked fine in the hospital before suddenly turning around at home.

However, defense experts also warned the hospital that she ate much less than usual on the second day and that her head circumference increased about 10 times more than usual. I testified that it was there.

The Inspector General described the right side of Mackenzie’s brain as “soft and muddy.” However, if she suffered a blunt trauma after discharge, Denell said she expected her brain to be swollen and firm. He also said there were no bruises on her head.

Defense experts said Mackenzie’s brain and parts of the skull seemed to be missing. Inspector General Dariso refused.

Two other doctors called by the state showed that Mackenzie was normal and healthy at the time of discharge, according to hospital records.

Dr. Joseph Zanga said the head examination was done properly and nothing unusual was revealed. The increase around the head did not surprise him.

Trauma that occurred before or during childbirth “did not suddenly develop any signs or symptoms that required the child to be taken to the emergency department after the child looked completely normal for more than two days. “Zanga testified.

Dr. Susan Parasis likened Mackenzie’s injury to a typical car accident injury. “It’s very difficult to reconcile,” she said, that Mackenzie may suffer such widespread injuries and show no external signs or symptoms. She also challenged the defense claim that CT scans showed developmental disabilities.

Former prosecutor Sadana Daily said Zanga and Parasis confirmed Dariso’s testimony that Mackenzie had a skull fracture.

“Evidence supports the conviction,” Daily said in a recent interview.

Judge Arthur Smith decided that their theory was “unreliable” after accepting defense physicians as experts in their respective fields. He denied the request for a new trial.

But the Georgia Supreme Court Turned over Smith’s decision in February 2020 reversed Develbot’s conviction and stated that they were eligible for a new trial.

In closing arguments, Daily told the jury prima facie suspicion that “it does not mean mathematical certainty.”

“That is, you don’t have to prove 90%. You don’t have to be 90% confident. You don’t have to be 80% confident. You don’t have to be 51% confident,” she said.

The High Court said Develbot did not receive a fair trial because it was a “terrible misrepresentation of the law” and the lawyer did not object.

The Supreme Court did not address the issue of medical evidence, as it was sufficient to overturn the verdict. The judge said it was a “close question” whether the evidence of the trial was sufficient to maintain the conviction.

Mark Jones, who became a district attorney in Columbus in January, said he had reviewed the available evidence. With limited resources and a crush on recent murders, he opposed pursuing an old case that was likely to be acquitted.

Jones didn’t know if Develbot was innocent, but he also thought, “They lost their heyday, lost their babies, and were imprisoned for quite some time.”

Jones apologized for not having a fair trial at Develbot at a hearing dismissing the indictment last month.

Albert said Jones’ apology was appropriate.

“Is that enough? I certainly don’t think so,” he said.

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Detained since July and now without criminal accusations, Debelbots struggled to start over and refused to talk about their relationship.

Ashley works for insurance company customer service, but dreams of having her own food truck and ultimately a restaurant after taking a cooking class in jail.

Due to issues with proof of legal residence, 35-year-old Albert was unable to obtain photo ID and was unable to travel or otherwise reestablish himself.

“The dismissal of this proceeding is only part of my recovery process,” he said.

Both said their belief in the judicial system had been destroyed.

“I joined the Army because I believed in freedom and democracy. Then I go home to experience injustice. I’m very sorry.”

They also said they had never had the opportunity to mourn Mackenzie’s death.

A teddy bear with a back compartment holds Mackenzie’s ashes. Ashley now hugged the bear and cried, wondering what her daughter would have been if she had lived until she was 13 this month.

“I will have a teenager,” Ashley said. Her eyes widened incredibly, staring at two framed photos of the newborn Mackenzie on the wall. “Who knows how many children I have ever had?”

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