A judge today tossed out a crucial piece of evidence in the case against Claudia Muro, the nanny accused of violently shaking a Hollywood infant last October.
Broward Circuit Judge Elijah Williams ruled that images from a hidden ''nanny cam'' videotape that allegedly captured Muro shaking the infant must be excluded from evidence, potentially ending the case against her.
Prosecutors used the videotape as their key evidence in charging Muro. They are exploring an appeal of the judge's decision, said Dennis Siegel, who supervises the prosecution on the case.
Unless they win on appeal, prosecutors will likely drop the case, since they don't have any other evidence. Doctors did not find any injuries on the infant.
Muro was charged with four counts of felony child abuse after Hollywood police arrested her last year. She was hired as the nanny for Lauren Schwartz, the 5-month-old daughter of Jennifer and Brett Schwartz.
The couple could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.
On Oct. 8, 2003, the Schwartzes discovered a bruise on their daughter's face. They watched that day's digital video recording and believed that the video showed Muro shaking their daughter. The couple took their daughter to the hospital, ultimately leading to Muro's arrest.
But Brett Schwartz refused to turn over the original recording from the ''nanny cam'' to police. Instead, he allowed a police officer to copy some portions.
The full original recording has since been destroyed. The parents did not remove the tape from the camera before it recorded new images over the portion that allegedly showed Muro shaking the child.
Williams ruled that Muro's due process rights were violated as a result of the destruction of the original recording. The full recording would have been useful to Muro's defense, the judge ruled.
Defense Attorney Allison Gilman said Muro will remain in jail until the state decides whether to appeal.
Williams had set a deadline of Nov. 9 for the prosecutors to decide whether they are going to appeal.