Saturday, September 20, 2003

Foster father guilty in girl's shaking death

By Sharon Coolidge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A Hamilton County jury on Friday convicted Norman White on reduced charges of involuntary manslaughter and misdemeanor assault in the shaking death of his 1-year-old foster daughter.

He had been charged with murder and felonious assault.

The charges for which White was convicted carry a penalty of five years in prison - rather than a life sentence - in the killing of Mikinah Smith.

"The jury understood the stress level that can build up in a caretaker," said William R. Gallagher, White's attorney.

"Yes, this was stepping over this line in reacting to it, but they understand he did not intend to hurt this child."

Gallagher said involuntary manslaughter might not properly reflect the seriousness of the crime, but that felonious assault and murder didn't reflect the crime either because White did not mean to harm Mikinah. The jury's only other options were involuntary manslaughter and misdemeanor assault, he said.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen said he was grateful the jury convicted White.

"I would never be one to second-guess a jury, but the facts of this case didn't warrant a charge less than murder in our minds," Allen said.

Foster parents Norman and Robin White began caring for Mikinah and her twin brother, Michael, this year after another foster mother was unable to care for them.

White, 37, was home alone with the twins March 15 when he became frustrated with Mikinah's cries, prosecutors said.

Mikinah suffered bruises, scrapes, cuts and a hemorrhage in the tongue where she bit down when White shook her so hard her brain swelled, the Hamilton County Coroner's Office found.

Mikinah died three days later at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center; one day after she and Michael turned a year old.


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