Olga V. Shved, a Pasco mother convicted in 2009 of abusing her infant only to have the conviction overturned, has been acquitted of all charges.
Judge Vic Vanderschoor found there was insufficient evidence to prove Shved abused her 4-month-old daughter, Ella, in 2006. He ruled an epileptic seizure was responsible, at least in part, for injuries discovered during a trip to a local hospital.
The judge also ruled that a bone disease Ella was diagnosed with and the vacuum-assisted delivery used during her birth could be responsible for the injuries.
Vanderschoor, the same judge who sentenced Shved, made his ruling after a bench trial on Feb. 21 in Franklin County Superior Court.
Shved, now 31, is thankful her criminal case is finally over, though she still has a long fight to try regain custody of Ella, said her lawyer, Jim Egan.
"She was tremendously relieved. She had previously been sentenced to 10 years in the penitentiary," Egan told the Herald Wednesday. "She was facing a sentence of exactly the same time."
Ella, who is now 8 years old, was taken to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland on June 16, 2006, after she apparently stopped breathing, court documents said. Medical staff found fractures that were at least two weeks old on her arm, thigh and four ribs.
The girl also had bleeding in her brain and corresponding skull fractures, which occurred more recently, court documents said. A doctor said it appeared the girl had makeup around her left eye to cover up a bruise.
Ella had three checkups with a local doctor prior to the discovery of the injuries and no major problems were noted, court documents said. Shved told hospital staff that the injuries may have happened when Ella slipped out of her soapy hands in the bathtub.
Ella was taken into protective custody following the trip to the hospital. She is living with foster parents.
Almost a year after the trip to Kadlec, Shved was charged with first-degree assault of a child. She was eventually sentenced in December 2009.
Shved was granted post-conviction bail at her sentencing hearing and allowed to remain out of prison while an appellate court reviewed her case.
More than a year later, in August 2011, the Washington State Court of Appeals found the jury was given an improper instruction and Shved's conviction was overturned. Her case was returned to Franklin County for a new trial.
The new trial was delayed for years while Egan searched for medical experts to refute prosecutors' allegations that Shved abused her daughter.
Egan was able to track down two doctors from California, Dr. Patrick Barnes and Dr. Charles Hyman, to testify for the defense. Barnes is a professor of pediatric radiology at Stanford University Medical Center and Hyman is the former professor of pediatrics at Loma Linda University.
Both doctors agreed Ella was not abused and Barnes wrote there were medical explanations for every one of Ella's injuries, Egan said.
Months after the injuries were discovered, Ella was diagnosed with diffusely demineralized bones, meaning that they didn't have the strength of normal bones, court documents said. She has continued to suffer seizures.
"Both of them said no, this is not the result of trauma. This is the result of disease," Egan said.
Shved, a native of the Republic of Moldova, turned down a plea deal during her latest trial that would have kept her out of prison and from being deported, Egan said. The deal would have allowed Shved to plea to a misdemeanor, but hurt her chances of regaining custody of her two children.
Shved's oldest child was also put into foster care following the discovery of Ella's injuries, Egan said.
"She declined their offer to settle with no jail and no deportation because she wants her children back," Egan said. "That kind of convinced me she might not of been guilty of this thing."
-- Tyler Richardson: 582-1556; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @Ty_richardson