The Case of Brandi Conley
On 12/17/96 Donna Conley, Brand i's stepmother, called paramedics to her home in Saltillo, Ohio (Perry County). She advised paramedics that Brandi had fallen down the stairs. Brandi was air lifted to Children's hospital in Columbus, Ohio where she died the following day. Upon examination at children's hospital Dr. Bartowski made a report to Children's Protective Services. Dr. Bartowski did not find the injuries consistent with the explanations. Dr. Bartowski felt that the child died as a result of Shaken Baby Syndrome. Children's hospital also found injuries on Brandi that they noted to be anywhere from 1 to 3 days old. The official autopsy findings cited the manner of death to be due to head trauma and the child's death was classified as a homicide. The autopsy also noted that the injuries occurred due to the victim being beaten by another person. There are four prominent doctors that have gone on record in support of these findings.
Donna Conley and her husband Brian refused to speak with law enforcement. Donna Conley cited her Fifth Amendment rights . Mr. and Mrs. Conley secured an attorney the day Brandi died. Donna Conley admitted to being the only person with Brandi prior to her death. Family members had previously made reports to Children's Protective Services alleging abuse towards Brandi at the hand of Donna and Brian Conley. Dr. Harry Bonnel, chief Deputy Examiner for San Diego County, California, documented that, "there is no doubt that this child was abused and murdered and, based upon information provided as to the alleged incident, the stepmother is the sole suspect." There are currently two children from Donna Conley's previous marriage that are still residing in the family home.
On July 14, 2003 after nearly seven years, the case went to trial. The case lasted a day and a half. Testifying for the prosecution was POMC's Second Opinion Service expert Dr. Robert Aranosian. In direct contradiction to Donna Conley's story, Dr. Aranosian testified that,"Those injuries are not consistent with Brandi falling down the stairs, just laughable, impossible ......Cerebral swelling, dilated pupils ....it doesn't happen from falling down the stairs."
On July 16, 2003, Donna Conley was found guilty as charged. She was sentenced to 9 years for involuntary manslaughter and 4 years for child endangerment - both charges to run consecutively for a total of 13 years.