ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — A second-degree murder charge has been withdrawn against a man in the death of his infant son because a key piece of evidence, the baby's brain, cannot be found, says Newfoundland and Labrador's Justice Department.
The province's Public Prosecutions says Thomas Michel was charged with second-degree murder in November 2013 following the death of his son Matthew Rich.
The prosecution was prepared to call experts in forensic pathology and neuropathology to be called as witnesses in the case, but they required access to the brain to complete the examinations necessary to provide opinions in court, the department says in a news release issued Thursday.
"On attempting to facilitate the additional examinations, Public Prosecutions was advised that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner could not locate the deceased child’s brain and that the brain was presumed to have been destroyed," the release says.
"Without the other experts having access to the brain to complete further examinations, there is no longer a reasonable likelihood of conviction."
The Chief Medical Examiner's Office could not be reached for comment.
Public Prosecutions said it could not proceed with the case.
"Without the other experts having access to the brain to complete further examinations, there is no longer a reasonable likelihood of conviction," it says.
Public Prosecutions says there are risks in going to trial with inadequate forensic evidence, including a potential miscarriage of justice.
"This was not an easy decision for Public Prosecutions to make and was only made after lengthy consultations with the expert witnesses."
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