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Eliza Jane Scovill died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of three years and five months on the evening of May 15, 2005. Her heart stopped while she was at home with her parents and older brother. She was rushed to a hospital by ambulance where she was revived. For the next five hours, EMTs tried to figure out what had happened and save her life. Two chest x-rays and a battery of tests provided no answers and EJ died again on the morning of May 16. Because no cause of death was apparent, EJ was referred to the LA County Coroner’s office for an autopsy. On May 18, an autopsy revealed no apparent cause of death, and tests run over the next week revealed nothing. Four months later the LA Country Coroner’s office released a report (first to the LA Times and then to the parents) announcing that Eliza Jane had died of the AIDS-defining illness PCP (Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia).

Two months later, a report by pathologist and toxicologist Mohammed Al-Bayati (retained by the parents) found no evidence for pneumonia and concluded that Eliza Jane had died from an allergic reaction to amoxicillin, a synthetic penicillin, known to be a major cause of severe allergic reactions. EJ had begun treatment with amoxicillin for an ear infection the day before she died and had never taken antibiotics previously. Al-Bayati also found no convincing evidence that Eliza Jane was immune compromised.

The LAPD investigated the case for 12 months, presumably considering the autopsy’s implication that EJ’s mother, Christine Maggiore, had risked her daughter’s life by not taking highly toxic AIDS drugs during pregnancy, having natural childbirth, and breastfeeding her daughter. Maggiore tested HIV positive in 1992 and has lived in health without medical treatments. Following an LA Times story on the case, attempts were made to remove EJ’s older brother from his parents but this action failed after he repeatedly tested HIV negative along with his father who remains HIV negative despite being with Christine since 1996.

An investigation into the actions of Eliza Jane’s three pedicatricians resulted in charges of gross negligence against one, Dr. Paul Fleiss, by the California Medical Board. However, after 12 months, the charges were dropped.

James K. Ribe, one of two LA County Coroner employees who signed the autopsy report, has a long and well documented history of providing questionable evidence and analysis, yet medical and legal authorities have so far been unwilling to seriously investigate his competence and, if shown to be lacking, to remove him from his position where his willingness to draw conclusions contradicted by medical evidence has destroyed the lives of many innocent parents.

This site provides as much information as possible about the case of Eliza Jane Scovill so that you can make up your own mind about what is known, what can be inferred, and what may remain forever unknown. One thing that should not be forgotten is that Eliza Jane was a beautiful and much loved child, and her death is a tragedy for her parents and everyone who knew her.

Click here to read a new report containing previously unseen evidence which disproves the claims of LA County Coroner Dr James K. Ribe. The photographic comparision of EJ’s undiseased, uninflamed lungs with those of a child with fulminate pneumonia have left once outspoken AIDS pundits and treatment activists in stunned silence, and shows how in both cases, Dr Ribe’s malicious ignorance of physical evidence caused parents to be unjustly blamed for their children's deaths.

Read Dr. Al-Bayati’s new report (PDF).

New! Testimony to California Medical Board

New! Interview with Christine Maggiore in MotherHood Magazine

Dr. Mohammed Al-Bayati is a respected pathologist (PhD) and a dual board certified toxicologist with over twenty-five years experience and over forty articles published in the scientific and medical literature. He was asked to review the Los Angeles Coroner’s report on Eliza Jane Scovill’s death which had concluded that Eliza Jane died of AIDS-related pneumonia.

Dr. Al-Bayati performed differential diagnosis utilizing the autopsy data, Eliza Jane’s medical records and the pertinent published medical literature. Dr. Al-Bayati concludes that “Eliza Jane’s death was not caused by Pneumocystis carinii Pneumonia or any type of pneumonia. Her lungs did not show an inflammatory response to medically justify a diagnosis of pneumonia of any kind. Eliza Jane’s death resulted from acute allergic reaction to amoxicillin [a form of penicillin] which caused severe hypotension, shock, and cardiac arrest.” The medical evidence and his findings appear in the report below.

He performed this analysis without being paid, in order to provide the family with the medical analysis and expertise they clearly needed. Al-Bayati is also on the scientific advisory board of Alive & Well, the non-profit that Christine Maggiore founded. This is also an unpaid position.

What is a Differential Diagnosis?

Distinguishing between two or more diseases and conditions with similar symptoms by systematically comparing and contrasting their clinical findings, including physical signs, symptoms, as well as the results of laboratory tests and other appropriate diagnostic procedures.

Should the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office be Trusted?

James K. Ribe, MD and Senior Deputy Medical Examiner for Los Angeles County signed the autopsy report concluding “Cause of death is Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia due to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome”.

Many questions have been raised about the reliability of Ribe’s conclusions. California lawyer Lewis Owen Amack has prepared a report which cites numerous examples of Ribe’s questionable activities in “Testimonial Flip Flops: A report on Los Angeles County Coroner Dr. James K. Ribe”.

In the first few weeks following Eliza Jane’s death, the coroner’s office was compassionate and helpful to the Maggiore-Scovill family. At some point in late May they apparently discovered Christine’s questioning views on HIV and AIDS and became hostile and uncooperative. Christine details some of these experiences in an unpublished letter to the Los Angeles Times. This is part of a regularly updated full chronology of events from EJ’s unfortunate death until the present.

The autopsy report on Eliza Jane Scovill prepared by the coroner mentions, but does not include results from an HIV test. Attorneys for the Maggiore-Scovill family have requested specific information on this test as well as any other HIV-related lab tests that may have been conducted post-mortem, and are still awaiting a response from the coroner’s office.

Readers may wish to note that Maggiore’s husband and partner of nine years, and their son age eight, both tested HIV negative multiple times in September and October of this year.

Comparison with Another Case: Destiny Jacobo

Dr. Al-Bayati has prepared a comparison of the case of Eliza Jane with Destiny Jacobo that is available here (PDF format). An updated version (PDF format) has been provided which will soon be published in the journal Medical Veritas.

Coroner Ribe claimed that Destiny died in 1995 of Shaken Baby Syndrome with associated head trauma. Destiny’s parents were accused of abusing and killing their daughter. The mother and father were both jailed in 1996. The mother is still in jail, the father was released in 2001.

Al-Bayati was asked to review the case by the parents and concluded that the child died of acute pancreatitis and a Vitamin K deficiency, and also had pneumonia.

Although Destiny and EJ had similar body weights for their age, Ribe said that EJ was underweight from AIDS, but called Destiny’s weight normal.

Is it a coincidence that Ribe avoids a diagnosis of pneumonia when it would exonerate the parents, but prefers such a diagnosis when it would incriminate the parents?

Read the full comparative report.

Deaths Blamed on Parents: A Global Problem

Cases are emerging all around the world where parents, relatives and caregivers have been blamed for the deaths of children that later turn out to have another cause, often natural. This often means that surviving children lose one or both parents.

One of the best websites is injusticebusters.com which documents several cases of unfounded and biased testimony by coroners, pediatricians, pathologists and other ‘experts’. In Canada, these include more than forty cases of unexplained deaths of children in which Dr. Charles Smith, an Ontario pathologist, performed autopsies or gave evidence. In several cases he ‘misplaced’ evidence that could have been used to exonerate the accused, several of which were charged with murder or other serious crimes, and some spent years in jail before being released. Dr. Joel Yelland, a Saskatoon doctor has been sued for negligence in the case of twelve people wrongly accused of sexual and ritualistic abuse of children in the early 1990s.

In England Dr. Roy Meadow was once considered an expert on unexplained child deaths and child abuse, but in 2005 he was struck from the medical register for his role in the wrongful jailing of several parents. Also discredited is ‘Meadow’s Law’ that two child deaths in one family is suspicious and three are murder. One of the best documented cases is of Sally Clark who lost two children to SIDS, and then was convicted of murder in 1999 and spent several years in jail, before a successful appeal in 2003. One of the factors in her conviction was Meadow’s testimony that two SIDS deaths in one family had a probability of one-in-73 million (other experts, including statisticians, later testified the risk is only one-in-200 when all factors are considered). Another factor in the conviction was that pathologist Alan Williams failed to disclose key medical evidence. A recent article in England’s Spectator magazine by Neville Hodgkinson describes this tragic case.

Meadow’s 1970 invention, Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy is also under a cloud of suspicion. In Scotland dozens of children were taken from this parent based on this diagnosis. Professor John Stephenson is one believer, and his testimony resulted in at least 19 children being taken from their parents.

In the United States, Kenneth Marsh of San Diego spent 21 years in jail for the murder of his girlfriend’s son. Both he and his girlfriend claimed that the death was caused by a fall combined with a congenital blood disorder. They finally married after his release from jail. Marsh is suing the county for US$50 million. Prosecutors declined to ask for a new trial, this time saying that forensic evidence shows reasonable doubt in the case.

In a recent example of coroner incompetence that favored authorities, a boy who died shortly after a beating by guards at a Florida “Boot Camp” had his death blamed on a congenital blood disorder.

Closer to home, the LA County Coroner’s office was involved with the case of a grandmother accused of shaking a baby to death, and subsequently sent to prison, but later released when an appeal overturned the conviction. The appeal’s court judged noted that there was no motivation for the grandmother, no prior history of abuse and, most troubling of all “absence of the usual indicators of violent shaking such as bruises on the body, fractured arms or ribs, or retinal bleeding.” This did not stop the prosecution ‘experts’ from testifying that abuse occurred. From the appeal transcript (PDF file): “The prosecution’s expert testimony, absolutely critical to its case, concluded that the cause of death was tearing or shearing of the brain stem when there was no physical evidence of such tearing or shearing, and no other evidence supporting death by violent shaking.” Somewhat ironically, they also stated “Absence of evidence cannot constitute proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

More information on false allegations of child abuse can be found at truthinjustice.org.

Dr. Al-Bayati’s Report

Dr. Al-Bayati welcomes any scientifically founded challenges to his report.

Comments on Al-Bayati Report from Dr. Harold E. Buttram, MD, FAAEM

One expert to comment is Dr. Harold E. Buttram, MD, FAAEM (Fellow of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine). He reviewed Al-Bayati’s report and wrote this letter in response:

October 30th 2005

For the past several years I have had the privilege of becoming familiar with the work of Dr. Mohammed Ali Al-Bayati through mutually shared cases involving alleged parental child abuse in the form of shaken baby syndrome (SBS). In these cases, each of us wrote medical reports defending parents whom we believed were falsely accused.

Regarding my own background, in the past six years I have written approximately 80 medical reports in defense of parents whom I believed to have been falsely accused of violent physical child abuse, largely involving charges of SBS. With few exceptions in these cases, I have observed a troubling pattern of abandonment of the usual thoroughness one finds in medical centers once suspicions of SBS were raised. In most cases that I have reviewed, in my opinion, there have been varying degrees of negligence in working through differential diagnoses, sometimes missing the most obvious of alternate non-traumatic causes.

In the present case of the autopsy report on Eliza Jane Scovill, in my opinion, there is a similar pattern; that is, diagnostic assumptions have been made based on superficial evaluation with little if any attempt to investigate other possible causes of the child’s three-week illness culminating in death.

Regarding Dr. Al-Bayati, I consider him to be a master craftsman in a broad field of medical expertise. His workups are exhaustive and meticulous, yet plainly written so as to be accessible to reasonably educated non-medical people. He makes no statements or claims that he does not document in the medical literature.

In the case of Eliza Jane Scovill, I first reviewed the autopsy report, which did in fact give rise to personal concerns and doubts. However, after going through Dr. Al-Bayati’s report point-by-point, he put all doubts to rest. There is no question in my mind that his report accurately describes the true causes in the death of Eliza Jane Scovill.

Harold E Buttram, MD, FAAEM
Quakertown, PA, USA

Comments from Dr. Andrew Maniotis

Dr. Maniotis is a Professor of Pathology and Program Director in the Cell and Developmental Biology of Cancer at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

November 21st 2005

Dear Ms. Maggiore:

As a Professor of Pathology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, one of the nation’s largest medical schools, I analyze many similar reports in the course of a single week.

From my experience in this area, I find Al-Bayati’s report on Eliza Jane Scovill to be one of the most thorough and well-studied investigations I have ever reviewed. If more pathologists used Al-Bayati’s same logical and scientific methodology, I believe there would be little need for inquests, charges of medical malpractice and fraud, and certainly less medical error in autopsies, diagnosis, treatment, and critical care practices.

I would only emphasize what Dr. Al Bayati developed quite adequately from a technical standpoint in noting how the independent neuroconsultant failed to perform the proper controls for the p24 staining of the microglia and neurons in this case. It should not escape the attention of readers, especially those not familiar with the technical language of these of reports, that the detection of the p24 antigen is not in any way diagnostic of the presence of HIV, or any other virus or pathogenic state. Positive staining for p24 in this instance, as in all cases reported in the published literature, is without scientific basis since positive staining can also be found in normal tissues and contexts.

I believe Al-Bayati’s analysis and report represents the state of the art in terms of methodology, completeness, and accuracy, and serves as a textbook model of how to conduct a differential diagnosis.

Andrew Maniotis, PhD.
Professor of Pathology and
Program Director in the Cell and Developmental Biology of Cancer,
Department of Pathology, Anatomy and Cell Biology, and Bioengineering,
University of Illinois at Chicago, USA

Dr. Mohammed Al-Bayati’s full report is available in PDF format here.