Dad MICHAEL BURRELL has been released from jail because the autopsy for his 7-month-old son was not completed on time. For gawd's sake, people. Have you ever heard of a rush job?
News - Local
Tuesday, Nov. 08, 2011
Published Wed, Nov 09, 2011 12:00 AM Modified Tue, Nov 08, 2011 05:39 PM
Father accused of killing 7-month-old son released from jail
A 23-year-old man accused of shaking his 7-month-old son to death is a free man -- for now.
Michael Burell was released from the Merced County Main Jail on Tuesday after prosecutors dismissed his case, in which he was charged with murder in the death of Jacob Burell.
Deputy District Attorney Steven Slocum, the prosecutor in the case, said the pathologist in the case has yet to complete the autopsy of the child, which is a key piece of evidence. Prosecutors were up against a 60-day deadline this week to present the evidence against Burell to a judge. Slocum said the autopsy report won’t be ready before that deadline is up.
As a result, Slocum said prosecutors decided to wait for the pathologist's autopsy report and dismiss the case against Burell. Slocum said pathologist’s examination of the child is more complex because it involves a brain injury. "We want to look at all the evidence before we decide if we're going to take this case to a jury."
Regardless, Slocum pointed out the murder charges against Burell could be re-filed, if the autopsy report shows evidence of homicide. Chief Deputy Public Defender Vincent Andrade, who is defending Burell with Deputy Public Defender Kim Boortz, said his client maintains the child’s death was an accident and a blameless tragedy. "Now that the case has been dismissed, (Burell) can go and grieve for his son," Andrade said.
Burell was arrested Sept. 9 after Merced police arrived at his East Santa Fe Avenue apartment and found the baby unresponsive. Jacob was declared brain-dead a few days later and taken off life support.
The criminal case against Burell was launched after Children's Hospital Central California doctors who examined the child concluded the injuries were severe and probably due to shaken baby syndrome.
Merced police went to the family's residence after receiving a call from the child’s mother, 23-year-old Ashley Nicole Sarkis. The mother told police the child wasn't breathing. Police noticed a bruise on the child’s forehead and bruising under his eyes. Burell claimed during police interviews he’d placed his son in his playpen while the mother was away from home. Burell claimed the baby was having trouble breathing a short time later, police said.
Burell also maintained the child had fallen by accident two days earlier. Sarkis, the child’s mother, told officers she'd been at Merced College when the child supposedly fell. During that time, Burell had been looking after the child. When she returned home, Burell told her about the child falling down while trying to climb into his walker, hitting his head on a toy. The parents said the child appeared unhurt from the fall and wasn’t taken to the hospital.
Burell faced life in prison. Slocum said it's unknown when the autopsy report will be released.