The lawyer for a Detroit father who was wrongly accused of killing and sexually abusing his baby daughter, who died on April 23, says that doctors, police, and prosecutors ruined his life.
The charges against James Lee Saltmar shall, 22, of Detroit, for felony murder, first-degree child abuse, and first-degree criminal sexual conduct were dropped on Thursday “in the best interest of justice,” according to a statement from the office of Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.
The death of Saltmarshall’s 8-month-old daughter Janiyah was ruled an accident by the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office almost two months after the baby’s death.
At the same time, Saltmarshall’s mugshot and claims that he beat and tore his daughter’s rectum were widely shared on TV, in newspapers, and on the Internet.
Saltmarshall always said he was innocent, and soon after he was released on bond, he said that medical examiners found no signs of abuse.
“They should have never, ever, ever brought charges against him,” said Lillian Diallo, Saltmarshall’s lawyer.
“There was no evidence of sexual assault, no evidence of a broken skull, and no evidence of shaken baby syndrome. There was no evidence at all that the charges were true.”
The following is what Worthy’s office said:
After a thorough investigation and based on the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s report from June 16, 2017, it was thought that the child died of asphyxiation and that his death was an accident. It was thought that Mr. Saltmarshall and his daughter slept next to each other on an adult-sized bed, and when Mr. Saltmarshall woke up, he found his daughter unresponsive.
Lisa Croff, a spokeswoman for the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office, said on June 12 that Janiyah died of asphyxiation caused by “overlay.” This was based on death records.
The prosecutor’s new story about what happened at Saltmarshall’s arraignment is very different from what Inkster police said.
“At first, Saltmarshall denied that Janiyah had fallen. He said that he picked her up and shook her to wake her up “According to WJBK-TV, Fox 2 News, this is what Inkster Police Lt. Jeffrey Smith said at the court hearing. “As the interview went on, Saltmarshall said that Janiyah first fell off the bed and hit her head on the floor. During the whole interview, Saltmarshall denied that he was to blame for touching and hurting the anus.”
Saltmarshall, who was very emotional during his arraignment, told Fox 2 that he passed out while holding his daughter on a bed in an Inkster hotel room. She wasn’t breathing when he woke up. He called 911 right away.
The investigation was started by Inkster police, but they didn’t answer MLive’s questions right away on Thursday.
“In this case, there was strong evidence from the doctors who treated the child that the injury was caused by a sexual attack, and when the child died, it was ruled a homicide,” an assistant prosecutor and spokeswoman named Maria Miller said. “…The treating emergency medical doctors and other health professionals met with the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office, and it was thought that the initial conclusion of a sexual attack and murder was wrong.”
It’s not clear when the office of the medical examiner decided that the preliminary results were wrong.
Diallo said that Saltmarshall wasn’t ready to talk to the public on Thursday. He is “sad” and needs to talk to a counsellor.
He missed the funeral for his daughter, and as of Thursday, he still didn’t know where she was buried.
And he will always be looked down upon.
“How do you get rid of the stain…?” Diallo said. “There are some people who will always believe it.
“It says on the Internet that he raped a baby and killed his own child, so everything else is just a side note.”