A British nanny named Louise Woodward was found guilty of the unintentional killing of an eight-month-old child.
She was a former British au pair who was the focus of a legal dispute and media controversy in 1997. The world was outraged by Louise’s 19-year-old trial for the murder of eight-month-old Matthew Eappen.
When the infant stopped breathing while being cared for by Matthew in Massachusetts, Louise, who was then 19 years old and from Elton, contacted an ambulance right away. Unfortunately, a brain bleed caused the infant’s death after six days.
Days prior to the child’s passing, Louise acknowledged that she had been a touch hard with him. He was initially charged with violence on a kid, but after the infant passed away, the charge was changed to first-degree murder.
Where is Louise Woodward Now? – Killer Nanny
Louise Woodward has established her own family and lives in freedom today. After being imprisoned for 279 days, she was released and went back to the UK.
She also spoke with Martin Bashir, a journalist with the BBC. She said in the interview that on the evening of February 4, when the infant didn’t seem to be responding, she gave him a little shake.
Louise joined London South Bank University to study law after being freed, and she earned a 2:2 there. She started working for a Manchester law business before switching to teaching dance.
After being freed, Louise Woodward went back to the UK, where she later married the owner of a haulage truck rental business and gave birth to her own children.
After being freed, Louise Woodward went back to the UK, where she later married the owner of a haulage truck rental business and gave birth to her own children. (From ABC News)
Louise married the owner of a company that rents out haulage trucks, and they had a lovely daughter together. She established her own school where she taught jive and salsa.
On February 9, 1997, the suspect was taken into custody and charged with first-degree murder. Louise was refused bail and kept in a high-security section of the MCI-Framingham prison until the trial began.
At a post-conviction relief hearing on November 10, Judge Zobel dropped the charges to involuntary manslaughter. He claimed that the defendant acted out of exasperation, immaturity, inexperience, and bewilderment, but not in a way that would support a conviction for second-degree murder.
Background Of Louise Woodward
Matthew Eappen entered a coma five days after being admitted to Children’s Hospital in Boston. He passed away on February 9th, 1997, from a broken skull and a subdural hematoma. In addition, a month earlier injury that went unreported and undiagnosed was discovered to be a fractured wrist. Ophthalmologist Lois E.H. Smith at the hospital noticed retinal hemorrhages that were thought to be indicative of shaken-baby syndrome.
Woodward said that she “popped the baby on the bed” in a statement to the police. In her case, there was a disagreement over how to use the word “popped,” which in British English means “put” or “placed.” She claimed she was stating she “placed the baby on the bed.” Popped denotes aggression in American English, particularly when referring to physical assaults like punching. The word “popped” does not have the same connotation as in American English, her defense attorneys told the jurors. But the police insisted that in addition to “popping” him on the bed, she also claimed to have dropped him once on the floor and to have been “a little rough” with him. She claims to have “dropped” the baby on the bed rather than using the phrase “popped,” according to the police officer who spoke with her right after the incident.
When Matthew passed away, Woodward was first detained for assault and battery before being charged with murder. A first-degree murder accusation was decided upon by a grand jury in March. She was kept in the maximum security section of MCI-Framingham prison without bail until her trial.
The defense attempted to have the trial moved before it began, claiming that a local jury would be too biased to reach a just decision. In defiance, the court turned down the defense’s motion.
Hiller B. Zobel presided as the judge. Eight medical professionals who were involved in Matthew’s care—including a neurosurgeon, an ophthalmologist, a radiologist, two pathologists, and an expert in child abuse—presented by the prosecution, led by Assistant District Attorney Gerard Leone and Assistant District Attorney Martha Coakley—testedified that they thought Matthew’s injuries resulted from violent shaking and from his head hitting a hard surface. This was disputed by the defense, among other things, on the basis that he had no neck injuries despite being shaken severely, which, according to the defense, would have been expected. Additionally, the prosecution had initially asserted that the impact injuries he sustained were comparable to being thrown from a two-story structure, but as the trial went on, they became less certain of this assertion. His injuries may have happened three weeks before to the date of death, according to the defense’s expert medical testimony. This suggested that his parents, doctors Sunil and Deborah Eappen, may have been negligent or maltreated the boy. He may have suffered old wrist injuries before Woodward even got to the residence. But during cross-examination, she asserted that she had never noticed any tiny bumps, bruises, or odd behavior on his part before the night he was transported to the hospital.
Barry Scheck, a co-founder of the Innocence Project, served as Woodward’s principal attorney during the trial and was also the creator of her forensic and medical defense. Scheck was employed and compensated by EF Education First’s Cultural Care Au Pair program. As part of their defense plan, her attorneys asked that the jury only be given the option of finding her guilty of murder rather than the lesser included felony of manslaughter. She concurred with her attorneys when individually questioned by the judge over this choice. Legal professionals hypothesized that the goal of this plan was to assist EF Education First in avoiding a civil lawsuit from the Eappens. She had just undergone three days of training; EF’s screening procedure and au pair training had drawn criticism. According to Massachusetts law, EF Education First could not be held accountable if the death had been premeditated. If the death wasn’t planned, it would point to a problem with EF Education First’s Cultural Care Au Pair, though.
After 26 hours of deliberations, the jury found her guilty of second-degree murder on October 30, 1997. The next day, Judge Zobel gave her a life sentence with a minimum of 15 years to serve in jail.
Appeal Of Louise Woodward
The trial court received post-conviction applications from Woodward’s legal team, and the hearing began on November 4th. The jury was divided over the murder charge in the days after the verdict, but those who had favored an acquittal were persuaded to accept a conviction. This had no legal repercussions, though. One jury member claimed that no one “believed she tried to murder him.”
Judge Zobel reduced the conviction to involuntary manslaughter on November 10 at a hearing for post-conviction relief, saying that “the circumstances in which the defendant acted were characterised by confusion, inexperience, frustration, immaturity, and some anger, but not malice in the legal sense supporting a conviction for second-degree murder.” She continued, “I am morally certain that allowing this defendant on this evidence to remain convicted of second-degree murder would be wrong.”
Woodward was released when her sentence was commuted to time served (279 days). Gerald Leone, an assistant district attorney, subsequently appealed the judge’s ruling to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Additionally, Woodward’s attorneys requested that the court overturn her manslaughter conviction. By a vote of 7 to 0, the court upheld the guilty verdict. On June 16, 1998, the court dismissed the prosecution’s appeal against the sentence and the modification of the conviction to involuntary manslaughter in a 4-3 split decision. Woodward then made his way back to the UK.
Louise Woodward’s Charges
Following a hearing for post-conviction relief, Louise’s sentence was shortened to 279 days. She had already served the identical amount of time in prison before being released.
The jury convicted Louise guilty of second-degree murder on October 30, 1997, resulting in a mandatory life sentence after 26 hours of deliberations. Hearing the verdict, the young nanny started crying.
Days later, it was revealed that the jury was divided on the verdict, and one juror further acknowledged that none of the other jurors believed Louise had attempted to murder the young child, Matthew Eappen.
On November 4, Louise’s legal team submitted post-conviction motions to the trial court. Judge Zobel reduced her conviction to involuntary manslaughter after six days. She has already served the 279 days of her sentence in prison.
The prosecution subsequently appealed the decision to overturn the verdict, disputed it, and took the case all the way to the Supreme Court. Louise won the case by a margin of four to three, allowing the defendant to travel back to the United Kingdom.
Louise Woodward Case Events
In Massachusetts, Louise Woodward, a nanny, was taking care of Matthew Eappen, who was eight months old. When the infant stopped breathing, she acted quickly and dialed an ambulance.
Matthew was checked into Boston’s Children’s Hospital. The boy had a subdural hematoma and a fractured skull, which led to a coma five days later and, regrettably, led to his death on February 9, 1997.
In addition, doctors discovered a fractured wrist that had occurred a month earlier but had gone undiagnosed. Retinal hemorrhages that Lois E.H. Smith, an ophthalmologist, determined to be indicative of SBS were seen (shaken-baby syndrome).
Louise maintained her innocence throughout the trial, which was held in October 1997. According to the prosecution, the nanny killed the child out of an intense, unrelenting rage.
The jury found Louise guilty of second-degree murder on October 30, 1997. She was sentenced to life in prison with a mandatory minimum of fifteen years to serve. Her legal team did submit a post-conviction petition to the trial court, nevertheless.
Judge Zobel downgraded Louise’s conviction to involuntary manslaughter following a post-conviction hearing on November 10. She was released when her sentence was reduced to time served, or 279 days.