A former babysitter is facing a possible life sentence after a medical examiner declared that a 35-year-old man died three-and-a-half decades later from injuries he sustained as a 5-month-old in the woman’s care. Terry McKirchy, 59, pleaded no contest in 1985 to attempted murder for shaking Benjamin Dowling so violently it caused permanent brain damage. She was sentenced to weekends in jail for three months and three years probation. However, a Broward County, Florida, grand jury has indicted McKirchy, who now lives in Texas, on first-degree murder charges following the M.E.’s finding. “The passage of time between the injuries sustained and the death of the victim were considered by the forensic experts who conducted the autopsy and ruled the death was directly caused by the injuries from 1984,” prosecutors said in a statement. “This case was presented to the grand jury, which determined that this was a homicide.”
McKirchy has long maintained her innocence. But Benjamin Dowling was never the same after McKirchy’s alleged abuse, according to the family. “Benjamin never crawled, fully rolled over, walked, never talked, never fed himself, he never enjoyed a hamburger or an ice cream cone, he could never tell us when he had an itch or anything hurt,” Benjamin Dowling’s parents said in a statement. “When he cried in pain, we as a family and caregivers had to guess as to what was wrong and hope that we could satisfy his need.” McKirchy’s arrest was first reported by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.