Former Lake Eliza man's conviction in baby's death

2013-03-21T16:00:00Z 2013-03-21T23:44:03Z Former Lake Eliza man's conviction in baby's deathBob Kasarda, (219) 548-4345

VALPARAISO | A former Lake Eliza man is challenging his conviction and 30-year prison term for killing his fiancee's 18-month-old son in 2004.

Christopher Naas, 37, has filed a motion for post conviction relief, arguing he was deprived of his right to the "effective assistance of counsel."

He also claims there is now "a legitimate and significant dispute" surrounding the effects of shaking a baby that was not available at the time of his trial.

The request will be heard by Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford, who conducted the trial and carried out sentencing.

No hearing was scheduled as of Thursday.

Naas was convicted of felony battery resulting in death for shaking Peyton McCormack and banging his head against a coffee table in frustration at his Lake Eliza home. Naas maintained that the child's death was an accident and that Porter County police "hounded" him into saying he shook the boy on previous occasions even though it wasn't true.

He took his case to the Indiana Court of Appeals and his conviction was upheld in August 2007.

Naas is now arguing the court erred in denying a continuance in his trial to allow him time to hire an expert qualified to cross examine the pathologist provided by prosecutors. His defense attorney felt he was not qualified to effectively conduct the questioning, according the request for post conviction relief.

He is also arguing he was deprived effective assistance at trial because his attorney agreed to have the testimony of three police officers read into the record because they were unavailable. This, he said, deprived him of his constitutional right to confront the witnesses.

Lastly, Naas argues that scientific opinion is "considerably more divided" now than at the time of his trial on the impact of shaking a baby.

"Despite legions of 'nanny cams' around the country, no one has ever captured an incident of baby-shaking which led to a fatality on film — a new trial is appropriate," according to his motion.

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