‘Someone beyond any human in the court will have to answer those questions’: Judge stuns courtroom with bizarre reason for acquitting mother accused of fracturing baby’s skull after jury deadlock
- Judge Mark Blumstein acquitted April Fox, 34, in Miami last Thursday
- Her trial for aggravated child abuse ended in a hung jury and mistrial
- Fox argued that her 10-month-old girl suffered genetic disorders and a fall
- Blumstein took the extraordinary step of declaring that there would be no retrial
- But Fox will not regain custody after child welfare officers sent girl for adoption
- She also faces trial in Broward county for practicing law without a license
A Florida judge has shocked legal experts by acquitting a woman accused of fracturing her baby girl’s skull, denying prosecutors a chance to re-try the case after a hung jury.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Mark Blumstein took the unusual step on Thursday after a jury deadlocked in trial of 34-year-old April Fox for aggravated child abuse of 10-month-old Sophia in 2015.
Fox’s defense was that the child had brittle bones and a genetic disorder that led her to suffer bone fractures after an accidental fall.
‘I’m really trying to get some picture of what happened that day,’ Blumstein told the parties after dismissing the jury, according to the Miami Herald.
‘I’m not surprised about what the jury came to, and someone beyond any human in the court will have to answer those questions. But in light of what I heard, and after hearing the presentation from the state, I don’t think it’s going to change with any retrial of this case.’
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Mark Blumstein (left) took the unusual step on Thursday of acquitting 34-year-old April Fox (right) for aggravated child abuse after a jury deadlocked
Blumstein told Fox: ‘This is four years since this incident happened. You’ve heard the court’s concerns over the course of this case. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this case and what happened. There are unanswered questions, no doubt.’
‘None of us here were there, except maybe you and people that you know. Certainly none of the attorneys were there to know what happened,’ he continued.
A juror told the Herald that two members of the six-juror panel believed there was reasonable doubt, with one in particular insisting that the lack of eyewitness testimony was troubling.
The juror said that the other four jurors wanted to convict Fox.
Blumstein is an elected judge, and elections in Florida’s circuit courts are held without party affiliations.
Prosecutors were stunned that they would not have the opportunity to re-try the case. Legal experts say it is highly unusual for a judge to dismiss charges outright in a serious felony case.
Fox was arrested in June 2015 after bringing her daughter Sophia to Jackson Memorial Hospital with multiple skull fractures.
Doctors also found partially healed fractured to the girl’s arm and leg, indicating prior injuries.
Blumstein, a Navy veteran, is seen campaigning for election in 2016. Elections in Florida’s circuit courts are held without party affiliations.
Fox was the girl’s sole caretaker at the time, and prosecutors alleged that she had inflicted the injuries by beating the girl.
However at trial, her defense team argued that Sophia suffered from brittle bones and a genetic disorder.
They say the girl was susceptible to fractures from everyday care, and may have had a dulled sensitivity to pain that led to the previous fractures going unnoticed.
Despite brain damage from the skull fracture and bleeding, Sophia can now walk and talk, and was adopted after Florida child services stripped Fox of her parental custody.
Despite the acquittal, Fox will not regain custody of the girl.
Fox now faces trial in Broward County over separate charges of practicing law without a license.
Investigators say that she offered legal assistance in matters of child support, criminal cases, and foreclosures.
The case came to light when Fox sued one of her alleged clients for nonpayment.