Nanny Cleared of Violently Shaking Baby

ByABC News via logo
March 21, 2006, 7:21 AM

March 21, 2006 — -- Two and a half years ago, Claudia Muro was sent to jail pending eight charges of aggravated child abuse that stemmed from a hidden home videotape that had allegedly caught her violently shaking a baby.

Today she is free, her name has been cleared, and the video has been totally discredited.

"In America, the truth will set you free," Allison Gilman, Muro's lawyer, told a Florida television station.

Brett and Jennifer Schwartz installed a hidden "nanny cam" inside their Florida home in 2003 after becoming suspicious about the way Muro, a Peruvian immigrant, was caring for their 5-month-old daughter, Lauren. When the parents reviewed the video, they called police and Muro was arrested.

"It's plainly clear of what's going on," Brett Schwartz told "Good Morning America" in 2003. "There's nothing taken out of context in that video."

But earlier this month, the case was thrown out and prosecutors acknowledged the video evidence was worthless.

Top forensic video experts testified the nanny cam actually took still pictures a few times in a second, which could make gentle motions appear violent.

The Schwartzes still believe the video shows their baby being abused.

"If the state needs our daughter to sustain brain damage to prove their case, they let the nanny walk away a free woman," Brett Schwartz said in a written statement. "However, this shows a major flaw in our criminal justice system."

This case is an exception. Often video evidence is more clear-cut. In a case in Louisiana, a video camera caught a 3½-year-old with cerebral palsy being tossed around like a rag doll, and in Chicago an 8-month-old was seen being slapped repeatedly by his caretaker. In Texas, a nanny was caught using obscenities and her hand to punish the child she was watching.

As for Muro, now 32, for more than two years in prison she refused to accept a plea bargain. Now she has been vindicated.

"It's like peace and calm, and finally it's here, it's over," she said.