A documentary exploring the trial of Lewis Woodward will air tonight on Channel 4.
The Killer Nanny: Did She Do It? The show will air at 9 p.m. and re-examine evidence from the trial over the death of child Matthew Appen, a case that shocked both sides of The Atlantic.
Commemorating 25 years of the high-profile US court case, the program includes new interviews with witnesses, defense, prosecution and jury.
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Louise Woodward, of Alton, Cheshire, was just 19 years old when she was charged with the murder of eight-month-old Matthew. While working as a nanny in Massachusetts, she was hired by Deborah and Sunil Eppen to look after their son.
On February 4, 1997, Woodward called an ambulance to the family home after Matthew stopped breathing. He was taken to Boston Children’s Hospital and placed on a life support machine.
Woodward was arrested and pleaded not guilty to a child battery in court. But the police alleged that he had admitted that he shook the child and threw it on a pile of towels.
Matthew died six days after Woodward called an ambulance. He had suffered a severe brain haemorrhage and the doctors decided to shut down his life support machine. Prosecutors then announced that they would seek a murder charge.
The trial took place in October 1997. Woodward drew criticism from the public for appearing cold in an overly televised court case. Prosecutors argued that he had killed the nine-month-old girl in “disappointment, sadness and outrage”.
Expert witnesses included brain surgeon Joseph Madsen, who said it may have been days or even weeks before Matthew was taken to hospital because of a head injury.
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Pathologist Gerard Feigin, who performed the autopsy, found no evidence that Matthew was shaken, but Detective Sergeant William Byrne said Woodward had told him he “might have been a little rough” with Matthew when he was “crying, crying.” and was fussy”. ,
About two weeks into the trial, it was Woodward’s turn to give his version of the events of the night that he called the ambulance, BBC reported at the time, He described the frantic attempts to revive Matthew after he stopped breathing. He denied violently shaking, hitting or hurting her.
But prosecutors called her “a bundled and aspiring actress.” And Woodward fell to tears on October 30 when he was found guilty of second-degree murder, which means a mandatory life sentence. “I didn’t… I didn’t hurt Matty,” she said.
Woodward’s mother said the verdict was a “terrible mistake”. The next day Judge Hiller Zobel sentenced Ms. Woodward to life in prison.
The following days there were protests in the US and in his hometown of Elton. It also emerged that the jury was divided regarding the murder charge.
Woodward’s legal team filed a post-conviction motion, soliciting changes to the conviction. And on November 10, Judge Zobel reduced the sentence to involuntary manslaughter, saying “the circumstances under which the defendant acted were characterized by confusion, inexperience, despair, immaturity, and some anger, but not malice in the legal sense of the other.” Used to support punishment for – degree murder”.
The judge said: “I am morally certain that allowing this defendant to be convicted of second-degree murder on the basis of this evidence would be a miscarriage of justice.”
Woodward’s sentence was commuted for his timely completion. In her case, it was 279 days of trial waiting—and she was free to leave prison. Assistant District Attorney Gerald Lyons unsuccessfully appealed the judge’s decision, and Woodward returned to the UK in June 1998.
Liverpool Echo Report That Lewis had gone to study law at London South Bank University after coming back to Britain. She graduated in 2002 with a 2:2 degree and began her career at the Manchester Law Firm, before working as a dance teacher. Woodward moved to Shropshire after marrying a truck hire company boss and has since become a mother.
The Killer Nanny: Did She Do It? It airs on Channel 4 on Sunday (January 9) at 9 pm.
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