Judge overturns Missoula man's conviction in baby's death

MISSOULA - A judge has overturned the 2009 conviction of Robert "Dave" Wilkes in the death of his son.

The Montana Innocence Project made the announcement Monday.

In 2008, Wilkes was taking care of his three-month-old son, Gabriel, when the baby suddenly quit breathing, according to court records. Wilkes tried to give CPR and get help, but the baby later died in the hospital after being taken off life support.

Wilkes was convicted, based on on expert testimony that said the baby must have been shaken.

In 2012, the Montana Innocence Project took on Wilkes' case after a different team of medical experts looked into the case and found no evidence that the baby was abused. They also found indicators that the baby suffered from a blood clotting disorder that pointed to a natural case of death.

Montana Innocence Project lawyers also found evidence that Wilkes wasn't effectively represented by a lawyer at the original trial.

“I have been waiting, hoping, and praying for this moment for many years,” said Dave Wilkes in a press release.

When the Montana Innocence Project took on the case, Wilkes told a Missoula Independent reporter about how difficult it was to lose a child and then be wrongly sent to prison for the death.

It's now up to prosecutors to decide whether to re-try Wilkes' case.

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