Trial Begins for Woman Accused in Shaken Baby Death

Prosecutors say Ridhima Dhekane died from blunt force trauma or shaken baby syndrome while in the care of Pallavi Machala

The trial has begun for a Massachusetts woman accused in the 2014 murder of a 6-month-old in her care.

Dr. Pallavi Macharla's trial began Monday in Middlesex Superior Court, where prosecutors said that Ridhima Dhekane died from blunt force trauma or shaken baby syndrome.

"The evidence beyond a reasonable doubt will be that Ridhima Dhekane was murdered with extreme atrocity and cruelty by the very woman who was chosen to protect and care for her," said Middlesex Assistant District Attorney Katharine Folger.

Macharla, of Burlington, was caring for her neighbor's daughter on March 27, 2014, when the little girl became unresponsive. Despite efforts to save her, Dhekane was pronounced dead three days later at Boston Children's Hospital.

The defense said the injuries to Dhekane that may have looked like shaken baby syndrome were actually caused by both the efforts to save her, including nearly an hour of CPR and the machines she was put on for four days after she was likely brain dead.

Prosecutors allege Dhekane was a perfectly healthy baby leading up to that March day and the only explanation is that her babysitter inflicted the fatal injuries.

"The injuries were inflicted, a 6-month-old could not do it to herself," Folger said.

Defense attorney J.W. Carney said his client plans to take the stand in her own defense.

"I guess the prosecutor wants you to believe that one day Pallavi lost her mind while she was taking care of children, and changed from being the loving, kind, gentle person that everybody knew her as, and she somehow lost her mind," said Carney. "The government cannot present to you any motive, any motive, for why Pallavi would ever have done this."

Testimony continues on Tuesday. The trial is expected to last about a month.

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