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California governor commutes grandma's conviction in death of 7-week-old

Gov. Jerry Brown commuted the sentence of a Van Nuys woman convicted in 1997 of shaking her 7-week-old grandson to death.

Shirley Ree Smith was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for the death of Etzel Glass. Smith, who has been free since 2006 as the appeals process went forward, has maintained that she is innocent. She spent 10 years in prison.

"It is clear that significant doubts surround Ms. Smith's conviction," Brown said in a commutation letter obtained by the Associated Press on Friday.


The commutation follows three 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decisions that set aside Smith's conviction. The court referred to the case as a likely "miscarriage of justice," saying there was no support for the prosecution's assertion that Smith lost her temper when the boy began to cry and shook him to death at their home in Van Nuys. Still, the U.S. Supreme Court last year reinstated Smith's conviction.

Msnbc.com staff contributed to this article by Jonathan Lloyd of NBCLosAngeles.com.

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