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Hearing set for father in shaken baby case
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MONROE - A four-day evidentiary hearing is set for mid-September for Casey Shelton, the former Brodhead man convicted at a jury trial of killing his infant son by shaking him in 2007.

Scheduled from Sept. 11 to 14 before Green County Judge James Beer, the hearing could be the beginning of a long retrial process. The dates were set during a telephone conference in the case on April 23.

Shelton, 42, is serving a 40-year prison term at Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun.

He has previously tried to appeal his conviction without success. Since 2015, he's been trying again with the backing of the Wisconsin Innocence Project at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Founded in 1998, it seeks to exonerate the innocent, educate law students and reform the criminal justice system "by identifying and remedying the causes of wrongful convictions."

At the hearing in September, lawyers with the Innocence Project will present newly discovered medical evidence related to shaken baby syndrome. They will argue the new evidence is grounds for a new trial. The Innocence Project and similar programs nationwide have successfully freed defendants convicted in shaken baby cases.

The prosecutor on the case, Jeffery Kohl, retired as Green County's assistant district attorney in January 2017 but has continued to work on the Shelton case post-retirement. He worked for free on the case for more than a year. In February, at the request of District Attorney Craig Nolen, the Green County Board of Supervisors approved up to $10,000 in funding for Kohl to continue.

"I thought it would be handled quickly but it can't," Kohl said in explaining why he worked so long for free on the case. "Originally, I didn't think it would get as complicated as it has gotten. It's going to take some time, some preparation and preparations with the witnesses. It's turning into a bigger project than I thought it would be."

September's hearing isn't technically an appeal but a post-conviction motion, Kohl said.

At question is whether the medical evidence brought by the Wisconsin Innocence Project should have been available at trial.

If the judge rules in favor of the defense, the case would go to the attorney general's office for decision on a possible retrial, Kohl said. If not, "I am expecting that (the defense) will appeal."

After the hearing, "whatever happens, I don't think I'll want to handle (the case) any longer," he said. "I am supposed to be retired, and I do want to do that at some point."

Shelton was convicted by a jury in 2009 of first-degree reckless homicide for the death of 2-month-old Christopher. The fatal injuries included internal bleeding on the brain and were attributed to Shelton violently shaking Christopher while the infant and his twin brother were alone with their father. Other evidence and testimony presented during the course of the case indicated that Shelton was physically abusive towards the babies, stuffing rags in their mouths when they cried and throwing one on the floor "just like a football."

In 2015, the interview room at the Green County Child Advocacy Center in Monroe was named after and dedicated to Christopher. The room is specially designed for forensic interviews of children who report abuse.