Australian court tosses woman’s 2-decade-old convictions in deaths of her 4 children

An Australian appeals court has reversed the conviction of Kathleen Folbigg for murdering her four children after new scientific evidence showed the deaths might have been natural.

The legal turn: Convictions that were upheld for 20 years were overruled as new scientific findings raised reasonable doubts about Kathleen Folbigg’s guilt.
* Chief Justice Andrew Bell abolished three convictions of murder and one of manslaughter, arguing that there’s now reasonable doubt as to Ms. Folbigg’s guilt.
* Folbigg was released from jail in June based on these new evidences following a pardon granted at the direction of the New South Wales state government.

Reaction and Impact: Following the court decision, Folbigg expressed gratitude towards those who supported and championed her case.
* Outside the court, she highlighted the importance of updated science and genetics in clarifying the cause of her children’s deaths.
* Her lawyer, Rhanee Rego, indicated that they would now seek “substantial” compensation from the state government for the years Folbigig spent in prison.

New Evidence: The dismissal of Folbigg’s convictions was based on significant scientific evidence that suggested the children’s deaths were due to natural causes.
* Evidence discovered in 2018 showed that Folbigg’s two daughters carried a rare CALM2 genetic variant that could have led to their sudden deaths.
* Experts also testified that myocarditis, a heart inflammation, could have been the cause of another child’s death, while sudden death of the remaining child was possibly caused by an underlying neurogenetic disorder.

Public pressure: A petition signed by 90 scientists, medical practitioners and related professionals in 2021 argued that new evidence pointed towards natural causes of death and prompted the inquiry into Folbigg’s pardon and acquittal.
* Folbigg’s four children died between 1989 and 1999, appearing to establish a pattern of behavior which led to her being labeled as Australia’s worst female serial killer.
View original article on NPR
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