77 - Innocent Michigan Woman Sent to Prison for Abusing her Adopted Nephew- The Story of Julie Baumer

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By Mike Morse Law Firm PLLC and Mike Morse. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

In 2003, Julie Baumer took her six-week-old nephew to the hospital after noticing he was fussy, lethargic, and refusing food. It kicked off a chain reaction that ended in Julie wrongfully serving four years behind bars after prosecutors erroneously claimed she violently shook her nephew, causing permanent brain damage.

A 2010 retrial confirmed the true source of her nephew’s injuries and led to her release, forcing her to pick up the pieces of a life shattered through no fault of her own. How did such an egregious breakdown in judicial process occur, yet again? Wrongful incarceration is a national crisis — what can we do to protect ourselves from similar mistreatment at the hands of a dysfunctional court system?

Show Notes

[00:17] Julie’s background and bio. Since her wrongful incarceration, Julie has since launched a career in real estate.

[00:39] Welcome Julie Baumer and Sarah Miller to the show!

[01:36] Julie, your story is heart breaking… for those who have not heard your story, we have to go back to the beginning. In 2003, your sister Victoria had a baby boy she could not take care of, correct?

[02:15] You decided to adopt this baby and raise it as your own… can you take us back seventeen years and tell us what was going on?

[02:46] What was going on in your life that you were able to take him? You were in your twenties, what were you doing for work?

[03:50] Victoria agreed to this adoption?

[04:04] The boy’s name was Phillip when he was born... and he wasn’t healthy at the beginning, was he?

[05:04] You took the baby home after one week… was your sister involved at all at this point?

[05:25] What happened in the four weeks between bringing Phillip home and taking him back to the hospital?

[05:58] How did you find motherhood for those first weeks?

[07:05] Around week five, what happened?

[08:50] Who named the baby — was it you or your sister?

[9:14] What happened in the ER at Mt. Clemens General?

[11:50] Over the course of the weekend at the ER, a nurse noticed the circumference of Phillip’s head had grown at an alarming rate. They did an MRI and discovered brain bleeding and conducted surgery.

[12:32] All weekend, how are you feeling with your newborn, soon-to-be-adopted son going through brain surgery?

[13:20] Monday morning, the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office calls you?

[13:55] Did they read you your Miranda Rights?

[14:32] Did Phillip have any injuries in the four weeks you had him?

[15:16] How many hours were you at the Sherriff’s Office?

[16:18] You go to see your son at the hospital and aren’t let in by a security guard who tells you you’re a suspect. What’s going through your mind?

[17:20] At any point throughout these months, did you talk to a lawyer?

[18:17] Phillip was born in August… you got the call saying you were charged with first-degree child abuse in February… that’s seven months later.

[18:46] The reason I’m asking a lot of this questions is I’m hoping people listening are learning. Anyone can be a potential juror or victim.

[19:18] Nobody should talk to the police without a lawyer.

[19:35] How did you find your criminal lawyer?

[20:55] You were arraigned for first degree child abuse and pled not guilty… what happened next, how many months passed until your trial?

[21:22] You were not sitting in jail that whole time, were you?

[21:46] Who was your judge in Macomb County?

[22:10] During these eighteen months, your lawyer is preparing a defense, allegedly?

[23:50] Your attorney suggested you should hire experts which you couldn’t afford. So, he proceeded without them anyway, not knowing he could petition the judge…

[24:16] If you can’t afford an expert when going against the state, the state will pay for an expert like they will pay for a court-appointed attorney.

[25:20] You weren’t allowed character witnesses?

[26:49] How many days was your trial?

[26:59] You called one witness on your behalf — what was her role in all this?

[27:23] The trial lasted four weeks, and there were only two witnesses… what took so long?

[28:05] By the time you got to trial, which is almost two years at this point, how was Phillip doing?

[28:59] After this four-week trial, you’re not in custody, your family supports you… is Victoria around for any of this?

[29:22] At any point, did the jury offer you a plea deal?

[30:53] Playing Monday morning quarterback fifteen years later… the attorney didn’t present a defense on your behalf.

[31:33] Your turned down the plea deal because you weren’t guilty, and the jury comes back guilty on one count. What goes through your head when you hear this?

[33:13] You were co-raising your sister Victoria’s other son, Brandon, at this time. Was he living with you during this?

[33:44] You thought that there was absolutely no way a jury would convict you… yet you sat through this four-week trial. You had to have known this wasn’t going well?

[34:47] Phillip was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The family believes Victoria was administered Pitocin during labor which caused his cerebral palsy.

[35:42] Did the attorney tell your story? That you took in your sister’s child because she couldn’t take care of him?

[36:09] Sarah Miller was the jury foreman on Julie’s second trial. After it was over, they discovered that if they had any knowledge of Julie’s first trial, they weren’t allowed to participate in her second trial as to be unbiased. Julie’s second trial was a stark contrast to her first debacle of a trial.

[37:30] When you were convicted, what was your sentence?

[37:38] And the judge could have sentence you to a lot less.

[38:31] Going to prison as an innocent woman, convicted of hurting a baby. Can you describe that?

[40:33] What did you do to keep yourself busy?

[41:12] Did you make any friends?

[42:09] Did you feel threatened at any point?

[42:41] While you were there, were you at the prison library, reading up on case law?

[42:50] Who appealed your case the first time?

[43:57] Eventually, the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic which opened in 2008 decided to take on Julie’s case. Based on new evidence, they requested a new trial which was accepted in 2009.

[45:16] Were you in court when the judge made the decision for a new trial? Or were you in prison?

[45:37] What’s going through your mind when you found out?

[46:00] At this point, the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office had the option of releasing you for time served or re-trying you. They chose the latter. Was that shocking to you?

[47:31] The please they initially offered was for 1-2 years. You had already served for 4 years. That doesn’t make sense! They should have walked away!

[48:09] Was Carl Marlinga the prosecutor when you were convicted the first time? Who was the prosecutor on the second trial?

[49:13] Dave Moran, who runs the Innocence Clinic, hooked up with Carl Marlinga to represent you as one of your lawyers in the second trial…in the same courthouse where he used to be the prosecutor on your first case. That’s mind-blowing, how did that happen?

[53:49] Second Trial was in 2010 and you so happened to have a fabulous jury foreman who happens to be sitting right here — Sarah Miller!

[54:17] Had you ever sat on a jury before?

[54:51] The first and second trials couldn’t have been more different. What was your impression of the trial?

[56:08] As you’re listening to the prosecution witnesses, how convinced were you that Julie had hurt this baby?

[56:42] Why, in your mind, did the prosecution witnesses hold more weight than the defense?

[58:02] Julie, you had believed Phillip suffered cerebral palsy and brain bleeding from administration of Pitocin during labor… it turns out he had suffered a stroke, called a venous sinus thrombosis, correct?

[59:10] Sarah, did you think that the stroke was a made-up defense?

[1:00:25] How many days did the jury deliberate?

[1:00:32] During the first go-around, how many guilty votes were there?

[1:01:58] Sarah, we know your ultimate verdict was not guilty… take us through the two days of how the jury reached that decision.

[1:04:15] A nurse on the jury asserted, from a medical perspective, that Phillip was not abused, which facilitated conversation amongst the jury.

[1:05:38] Were you all confident when you came to the verdict?

[1:06:45] “Reasonable doubt” exists to protect people from situations just like this.

[1:08:11] Sarah, if someone listening is about to sit on a jury, what’s your message for them?

[1:09:19] Julie, I can only imagine how it must have felt to hear “not guilty” the second time around. How did it feel?

[1:11:03] Did you ever get an apology from Eric Smith?

[1:11:54] Sarah, after all that, you must have been proud of yourself!

[1:12:48] How did the two of you hook up after the trial?

[1:14:50] You’ve been free for ten years… have you had any updates on Phillip?

[1:18:48] There have been no run-ins or interactions with him and his adoptive parents since the trial?

[1:19:23] Are you holding out hope that after he turns eighteen he might look you up?

[1:19:37] How is your sister doing?

[1:20:32] One of the craziest things in our legal system is that if you are imprisoned and released, you are a parolee — you have medical benefits, housing benefits, employment assistance, etc. If you go to prison and you’re wrongfully incarcerated, you’re a free person, but you get no benefits. Nothing.

[1:22:03] Thank you both for being here, and I’m so sorry you had to go through this. Wishing you the best of luck.

[1:22:46] Thank you for listening to Open Mike this week, with Julie Baumer and Sarah Miller.

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