Medill Justice Project Discovers Revelatory Information in Shaken-Baby Syndrome Case Where Convicted Mother Maintains Her Innocence

Expert: Miller's case is a "poster child" for "false conviction for shaken baby"; Multi-part examination co-published with Life of the Law

A Medill Justice Project investigation has discovered several accidents and medical episodes experts say could have played a role in the death of a Michigan woman’s infant daughter. Accused of shaking her child to death, Tonia Miller was convicted of second-degree murder in 2003 and is serving a 20 to 30 year prison sentence.

After a nine-month examination, MJP co-publishes with Life of the Law its multi-part investigation of Miller’s case, which includes a podcast—available in English and French—that delves into the infant’s short life; two in-depth articles that explore experts’ opinions on alternative explanations for her death and examine the use of demeanor to assess if someone is culpable of a crime; and a video that reveals the impact on Miller’s family and friends in the wake of the tragedy. The stories can be accessed via Life of the Law’s website at or via MJP’s website at

Since 2012, MJP has been probing shaken-baby syndrome, creating the world’s largest publicly available database of cases, uncovering evidence that played a role in a federal judge’s decision to free from prison a Chicago-area woman and partnering with The Washington Post on a two-part series published on page one of the newspaper. Its reporting on the subject has been honored with an IRE Award, a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and a Sigma Delta Chi Award, among others. 

About The Medill Justice Project

The Medill Justice Project, founded at Northwestern University in 1999, is an award-winning national investigative journalism center that examines potentially wrongful convictions, probes national systemic criminal justice issues and conducts groundbreaking research. As journalists, MJP advocates only for the truth.

About Life of the Law

Life of the Law is a national podcast produced by award-winning investigative reporters, editors, producers, researchers and legal scholars. We ask questions, find answers and publish what we discover about the law in our sound-rich, bi-weekly podcast.

For more information:

Prof. Alec Klein, Northwestern University
Director, The Medill Justice Project
(847) 467-4476

Amanda Westrich
Director of operations, The Medill Justice Project
(847) 467-5307

Nancy Mullane
Executive director/producer, Life of the Law
(415) 250-5459

Source: Medill Justice Project