- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 18, 2016

ROMNEY, W.Va. (AP) - A man serving a 40-year prison sentence in connection with the 2004 death of his 2-year-old stepdaughter has had his conviction overturned by a judge.

Hampshire Circuit Judge Charles Parsons recently ordered a new trial for Jeremiah D. Mongold, 32, finding that the defendant’s attorney, Larry Sherman, had been ineffective during his original trial a decade ago and committed “grievous error” related to evidence in the case, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported (https://bit.ly/1Xmq4Dw).

Sherman’s performance during the trial was “substantially deficient,” Parsons found.

“There is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s errors, the result of the proceedings would have been different,” Parsons ruled.

It is unclear what errors Sherman was deemed to have made.

Mongold was sentenced in 2005 after being convicted of child abuse resulting in death. Prosecutors had argued that Hannah Mongold died from shaken baby syndrome.

There is evidence, however, that the toddler actually died from vasculitis, a rare illness that causes the body to attack its own blood cells, said Valena Beety, the director of the Innocence Project at West Virginia University’s College of Law.

According to Beety, Hampshire Prosecuting Attorney Dan James said during a status hearing Tuesday that prosecutors were looking into medical experts’ opinions on vasculitis being the cause of death.

“If their experts do find that, it would be unconscionable for him to do anything but drop the prosecution,” Beety said.


Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.

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