2000-11-18 / Front Page

Father Convicted In Daughter’s Death

By Joan Ward George

Father Convicted
In Daughter’s Death

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced Tuesday the conviction of Matthew Leggard on charges of violently shaking his six week old baby, Chyann Hulse, to death. The incident occurred last October 5, 1999 in the family’s Far Rockaway apartment on Seagirt avenue.

The "Baby Leggard" case was in court for the past few weeks as prosecutors called for a guilty verdict of manslaughter charges that Matthew Leggard shook his infant daughter resulting in her death by shaken body syndrome.

Leggard, 24, was reportedly home alone with his newborn daughter when the incident occurred. The child’s mother, Meredith Hulse, 21, was at her beautician’s job at the time of the occurrence.

Hulse testified during the trial that Leggard had phoned her at her job at approximately 3:30 p.m. the day of the incident and said the baby had stopped breathing. Both parents told police they called 911. Paramedics arriving at the scene found the baby with no pulse or heartbeat, but revived her and transported her to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital. She remained there in critical condition and was soon after transferred to North Shore University Hospital Center in Long Island where she died four days later.

Leggard now faces a maximum term of up to 10 to 15 years imprisonment. The three week jury trial was held before Supreme Court Justice Richard L. Buchter, who is scheduled to impose sentence on December 11, 2000.

During the trial a series of experts testified that it was their medical opinion that the child died of shaken baby syndrome. EMS personnel and physicians testified that the hemorrhages and swelling of the brain, which all proved fatal, are the classic symptoms of shaken baby syndrome. In addition, EMS said they found Chyann with finger marks across her chest, where she had been grabbed.

District Attorney Brown said, "In convicting the defendant the jury has concluded that he recklessly caused the death of his infant daughter by shaking her violently, forcefully and repeatedly. Chyann’s tragic death clearly illustrates the devastating consequences of shaking an infant and should serve as an important reminder to all of us of the irreversible damage that can be done by shaking a child."

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