Robins Kaplan Secures Freedom for Mother Wrongfully Convicted of Murdering Her Newborn

August 5, 2021

Robins Kaplan, along with the Georgia Public Defenders Council and Wisconsin Innocence Project, recently secured justice for parents who were wrongfully convicted of murdering their newborn over 12 years ago.

In 2009, Ashley and Albert Debelbot noticed a small bump on their three-day-old daughter’s forehead. They rushed her to the emergency room, where she died a few hours later. The state medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, opining that she had died as a result of intentional blunt force trauma to her head, and Ashley and Albert were arrested. At their trial, the medical examiner’s testimony was the sole evidence that a crime had occurred. Both parents were sentenced to life in prison without parole.

In 2014, a Robins Kaplan team joined with attorneys from the Georgia Public Defenders Council to represent Ashely Debelbot pro bono in post-conviction proceedings. Together with the Wisconsin Innocence Project, which represented Albert Debelbot, the combined legal teams presented evidence that the jury had never heard, including that the newborn’s head grew at 10 times the normal rate, she suffered a stroke-like event in utero that caused her brain to swell, and the autopsy findings didn’t match those of blunt force trauma.

Despite all medical evidence, the post-conviction court denied the defendants’ motion for a new trial. The case was then brought before the Georgia Supreme Court, and the court unanimously granted Ashley and Albert a new trial. In April of 2021, all charges against Ashley and Albert were dismissed.

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