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Murder charge nanny 'is innocent'

A lawyer for an Irish nanny charged over the death of a one-year-old girl accused prosecutors of presenting "false and deceptive" information to a grand jury to get a murder indictment against her.

Aisling Brady McCarthy is charged with murder and assault and battery on a child over the death of Rehma Sabir in January. The girl was taken to hospital on her first birthday with severe head injuries and died two days later.

McCarthy's lawyer, Melinda Thompson, asked a judge at Woburn, Massachusetts, to dismiss the charges against her, alleging that "90%" of the evidence presented to the grand jury was improperly admitted. "This is about the defendant sitting in jail for a crime that she absolutely did not commit," Ms Thompson said.

Judge Jane Haggerty did not immediately make a ruling. McCarthy, 35, appeared tearful as she was led into court in handcuffs.

Ms Thompson said prosecutors should not have presented evidence about bone fractures the girl appeared to suffer between two weeks and two months before she died. She said prosecutors offered no evidence linking McCarthy to those injuries. The lawyer said McCarthy spent just one-and-a-half weeks out of the last two months of the child's life caring for the girl because the girl's mother took her on two trips outside the country during that time.

Ms Thompson said prosecutors put evidence of the bone fractures before the grand jury "to make it seem like my client was abusing this child". She also complained that prosecutors asked leading questions of certain witnesses to question McCarthy's character and "to make it look like she was a bad care-taker". For example, prosecutors allowed evidence that the baby's grandmother did not approve of the way McCarthy dressed the girl.

Ms Thompson said the baby's mother lied when she told the grand jury that the girl had never fallen off the bed. Later, instead of putting the mother back before the grand jury, prosecutors asked a detective if the mother wanted to clarify something she said. The detective then told the grand jury that the mother now recalled that the baby fell off the bed once during a trip to Pakistan in the months before she died. The detective said the mother said the baby fell on her hands and did not hit her head.

Assistant District Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said prosecutors did not submit any false or misleading information to the grand jury. He said they presented evidence from everyone who had cared for the girl because they were "looking to find out what caused the death of this child". Mr Fitzgerald said none of the witnesses expressed an opinion on the cause of the bone fractures.

Dr Alice Newton, medical director of the Child Protection Team at Boston Children's Hospital, diagnosed the girl as a victim of abusive head trauma, which she said includes injuries caused by violent shaking and by striking the head or causing the head to strike another object or surface. The baby's parents told police that McCarthy had been their nanny for about six months, caring for the baby while they worked.

After her arrest, immigration officials said McCarthy was in the country illegally after arriving from Ireland in 2002 under a tourist programme. She was only authorised to stay 90 days.

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