Saturday, 12 February 2011

SIDS: Ontario: Marco Trotta

MICHELE MANDEL,  February 8, 2011
Child killer Marco Trotta wants his conviction quashed because the notorious Dr. Charles Smith lied at his trial.
Catching a ride on the wrongfully convicted train, Trotta will go before the Ontario Court of Appeal next month to argue that he, too, was unfairly done in by the discredited pathologist and was forced to spend nine years in prison crying himself to sleep.
“We proved that in our previous trial, dated back to June 1998, that Dr. Charles Smith intentionally lied, under oath, in order to secure a conviction on behalf of the Crown,” Trotta, 42, says in documents filed Jan. 21 with the appeal court.
“Between June 1998 and May 2007 I often cried myself to sleep at night. I was in constant fear for my life.”
But don’t be misled into believing poor Trotta belongs with the litany of other innocents mistakenly imprisoned thanks to Smith.
Trotta has now been convicted twice for the 1993 death of his horribly beaten eight-month-old son Paolo and this admitted child abuser is no poster boy for the truly wrongly convicted.
When the Oshawa baby died in May 1993, his death was originally attributed to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). A year later, the Trottas’ new month-old son Marco Jr. was brought to the emergency room with a broken leg and bruises covering his little body. Suspecting the baby’s thigh had been twisted until it broke, doctors called police and Paolo’s death was reopened.
Smith, Ontario’s top pediatric pathologist at the time, was called in to conduct a second post-mortem. He would testify he discovered a recent skull fracture in the exhumed body and Paolo really died of either a blow to the head or asphyxiation from being strangled or smothered.
But unlike other cases, it wasn’t just Smith’s testimony that convicted Trotta of second-degree murder, aggravated assault and assault causing bodily harm. A parade of witnesses described a baby who was often black and blue, malnourished from watered-down milk and cried at the sight of his strict father. From the baby’s grandmother to the photographer at his christening, all were horrified at his battered condition.
Most compelling, though, was the Trottas’ video of their trip to Florida just two weeks before the baby’s death that showed Paolo covered in ghastly dark bruises.
Trotta was sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 15 years. His wife, Anisa, was convicted of criminal negligence causing death and handed a five-year sentence.
“I was immediately incarcerated at the Whitby jail on June 12, 1998,” Trotta said in an affidavit filed with the appeal court. “During my time there I was jumped, punched and taunted with the words ‘baby killer.’”
When he applied for a family visit with his wife in 2001, he was told he’d first have to have a vasectomy. “So I had a vasectomy,” he complained, “only to be told that I would still not get a (visit).”
Trotta’s first appeal was dismissed in 2004. But three years later, he hit the jackpot. The Supreme Court of Canada quashed the pair’s convictions and ordered new trials because of fresh evidence that Smith’s findings had been completely discredited.
Two expert pathologists concluded Paolo’s skull fracture was old, not new, and while both agreed the child had suffered “chronic child abuse” in his short eight months of life, neither could determine the cause of his death.
Trotta wanted that to be the end of the matter. But while Justice Alexander Sosna agreed Smith had “misled the court,” he believed there was enough other evidence to warrant a retrial.
Once again, Trotta was convicted in Whitby.
In September 2009, he pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm and was found guilty of manslaughter. But Trotta still managed to go home with his smitten wife: Proceedings against her were stayed while he was sentenced to the nine years he’d already served in prison plus a year probation.
A sweetheart deal if there ever was one. And it’s still not enough for Trotta.
He wants to hitch a ride on the wrongly-convicted train — where a seat includes a sanitized reputation and compensatory cash waiting to be had.

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