exposing the dark side of adoption
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Author: BYLINE: Bill Gardner, Staff Writer

A Lakeville woman was found not guilty of murder and manslaughter Thursday in the death of her 10-month-old daughter, whose bones may have been too brittle to withstand the rigors of normal living.

Julie McClure, 34, had been accused of abusing her adopted daughter and causing the skull fracture that led to the child's death on Aug. 17, 1993. Doctors determined the child had numerous other broken bones.

McClure's attorney contended the baby suffered from osteogenesis imperfecta, a rare disease that makes bones brittle and easily broken.

Prosecution and defense doctors disagreed on whether Jessica McClure suffered from the disease, and her body was cremated before definitive tests could be made.

Dakota County District Judge Leslie Metzen ruled that the medical dispute over the disease created a reasonable doubt that the child was the victim of child abuse.

``Reasonable and brilliant scientific minds do not agree on whether Jessica suffered from the disease,'' Metzen said in announcing her verdict.

Although the prosecution ``presented strong evidence that Jessica was the victim of child abuse,'' Metzen said, the case was not proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Meeting reporters after the verdict, Julie McClure said, ``It has been very long and very difficult.''

She added, ``I think they jumped to a conclusion that started the ball rolling.''

All the testimony came in juvenile proceedings that stretched from February 1994 until August 1995 and were not open to the public. In an unusual arrangement, prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed to let Metzen resolve the murder and manslaughter charges based on the testimony she heard in the juvenile case.

The defense called Dr. Colin Paterson, an osteogenesis expert from Scotland, who testified it was ``extremely likely'' that Jessica McClure suffered from the disease.

Another international expert, Dr. Francis Glorieux, testified for the prosecution and said Jessica did not have the disease. Dr. Daniel Davis, who performed the autopsy, said he did not notice any abnormalities in the bones when he cut through them.

1995 Sep 22