A woman who was accused of violently shaking a 5-month-old baby has been charged with his murder nearly four decades later.
According to the Associated Press, former babysitter Terry McKirchy was previously convicted of shaking Benjamin Dowling so severely that it caused him permanent brain damage. Dowling, who suffered mental and physical disabilities throughout his life, died in 2019 at the age of 35. After performing an autopsy, the medical examiner’s office concluded the man’s death was due to the injuries he sustained during the 1984 incident.
McKirchy, who was 22 at the time, initially told Dowling’s parents that the infant had fallen off the couch. However, it was later determined that Dowling had suffered abusive head trauma, aka Shaken Infant Syndrome. McKirchy was convicted of attempted murder shortly after, but her sentence was relatively light, as she only had to serve weekends in jail for a few months and three years of probation. But the situation changed when Dowling died on Sept. 16, 2019.
A grand jury recently indicted the now 59-year-old with first-degree murder. She was arrested in Texas, where she now lives, earlier this month and remains behind bars as she awaits extradition to Florida.
“The passage of time between the injuries sustained and the death of the victim were considered by the forensic experts who conducted the autopsy and ruled the death was directly caused by the injuries from 1984,” prosecutors said in a statement. “This case was presented to the grand jury, which determined that this was a homicide.”