In 2004, Mike Hansen was convicted of murdering his three-month old daughter, Avry. There was no physical evidence indicating that Hansen murdered his daughter. A prosecution expert testified that Avry died of blunt force trauma to her head while she was in her father’s care. The jury inferred that Hansen assaulted his daughter because she suffered from a massive skull fracture.
In the spring of 2011, numerous experts testified that Avery’s injury most likely occurred six days earlier, when she fell from a Walmart shopping cart. Because Avry’s injury was healing when she died, experts concluded that Avry could not have died while in her father’s care on the date in question. Based on this evidence, Hansen was granted a new trial.
On September 16, 2011, the Douglas County District Attorney dismissed the indictment against Hansen, conceding that they could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he killed his daughter. The motion to dismiss the indictment began:
A prosecutor has the responsibility of a minister of justice and not simply that of an advocate. Inherent in such responsibility are obligations to the community, the victim, and the defendant. Those to whom we owe such obligations are rarely, if ever, aligned. Our peers, whom we oppose in court, are advocates. Thus, a prosecutor is ultimately charged with the responsibility of seeking justice in the midst of dueling obligations. Our role is not to win cases; rather it is to pursue fairness and equity in a world often devoid of the same within the parameters of a legal system, albeit great, that occasionally falls short ofthe mark:
To hear more about Hansen’s case, here is a link to the story on MPR