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Doctor Sentenced to Up to 4 1/2 Years in Prison in Baby Death

Pallavi Macharla was charged with second-degree murder in connection to the death of 6-month-old Ridhima Dhekane, but later had her conviction reduced to involuntary manslaughter

The Massachusetts woman who was convicted in the death of a 6-month-old baby has been sentenced to 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 years in prison.

Pallavi Macharla had her sentencing hearing Friday for the involuntary manslaughter conviction in connection to the March 2014 death of Ridhima Dhekane. She was initially convicted of second-degree murder but had it reduced after Judge Kenneth Fishman said  he could not permit the murder conviction to stand "in the presence of such highly contested and inconsistent evidence."

Macharla, a licensed physician in her native India, was babysitting the infant in her Burlington home when she shook Dhekane so violently that her brain bled, according to prosecutors.

Defense attorneys argued that the infant actually died from cardiac arrest. They also suggested she choked on homemade applesauce or her own vomit.

During the trial, Macharla took the stand and recalled how she set the infant in her baby swing and went to put her own son down for a nap in a different room. Upon returning to the room where Dhekane was, the defendant said she found the girl covered in vomit.

"At that point I heard a noise — gurgling noise from her mouth and I turned her towards me, and when I saw her face her eyes were closed and I called out her name," said Macharla.

She also testified that she called Dhekane's mother and did mouth-to-mouth breathing, but did not call 911. The child was pronounced dead three days later at Boston’s Children Hospital.

Macharla pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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