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Jury in Burlington Shaken Baby Trial Begins Deliberations

Pallavi Macharla was charged with first-degree murder for the March 2014 death of 6-month-old Ridhima Dhekane, who died in the defendant's apartment

A jury has begun deliberations in the murder trial of a Massachusetts doctor accused of killing a 6-month-old infant in her care.

Dr. Pallavi Macharla, 44, of Burlington, is charged with the March 27, 2014, death of Ridhima Dhekane, who died in Macharla's apartment while the defendant was babysitting her.

On Friday in Middlesex Superior Court, the judge in the case told the jury they have four possible verdicts to consider: not guilty, guilty of 1st degree murder, guilty of 2nd degree murder, or guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

"We know that Ridhima was subject to violent force when she was alone with the defendant," Middlesex County Assistant District Attorney Katharine Folger said. "We know that that force was enough to cause bleeding in her brain."

Before the jury was given their instructions, Folger stated in her closing arguments that Macharla knew she inflicted injuries Dhekane would not survive.

"She was not concerned about Ridhima, it was all about her... not the life of the little baby she was entrusted to protect," said Folger.

She also said Macharla was a medical doctor but never practiced on her own, instead following her husband to the United States and choosing to focus on raising her own children while offering child care services.

"But all of that unraveled by March 27, 2014," stated Folger.

Defense attorney J.W. Carney closed his argument by saying Marcharla never changed her story as was suggested by prosecutors. He said she only lied about one thing.

"She lies about one thing, when Pallavi went to get her son, she asked (a neighbor who used to watch her) to stay with her for 30 minutes while she was sleeping," said Carney.

Macharla, who pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, relived the details of the death of the infant on Wednesday as she took the stand in her own defense. She said the baby was in her swing alone when the defendant discovered the child 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," Macharla said.

She said she called the baby's mother and performed CPR on her, but did not call 911, saying her goal was to get the infant to breathe.

Carney argued for the judge to instruct jurors on involuntary manslaughter as an option. He said that the medical examiner who performed an autopsy on the baby changed her mind and said she no longer believed the baby died from "shaken baby syndrome."

The defense said Dhekane died from cardiac arrest and suggested she may have choked on homemade applesauce or her own vomit.

Prosecutors argued that the child was a "perfectly healthy" infant leading up to the day of her death, and the only explanation is that Macharla inflicted the fatal injuries.

But Carney argued on Friday that the child had no rib fractures, exterior injuries and no signs of shaken baby syndrome.

Jurors did not reach a verdict Friday. Deliberations will continue Monday morning.

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