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Alan Yurko (born 1969) was convicted in 1999 for the death of his then-girlfriend's 10 week old infant. The case at trial was shown to be a tragic, though classic, example of shaken baby syndrome. Due to the close proximity of receiving six vaccinations , however, the anti-vaccination movement latched on to the case and organized an internet based "Free Yurko" campaign, blaming the infant's murder on vaccines. In 2005, Yurko's conviction was overturned on appeal due to sloppy work by the medical examiner on the case. Instead of a new trial, Yurko pleaded no contest to manslaughter, received "time served", and was released. After release Yurko almost immediately got into legal trouble again over a parole violation for a 1989 sentence for aggravated burglary, and has been in prison again since 2006. This was obviously the work of Big Pharma in an attempt to cover up the truth.[citation NOT needed]
Previous Conviction and Incarceration
Prior to the death of baby Alan Ream, Alan Yurko had served eight years in jail for the crime of aggravated burglary—that is, burglary where a deadly weapon or the threat of bodily harm was involved. Yurko was paroled and then proceeded to violate that parole, moving to Florida with his girlfriend and her infant son. It was shortly after Yurko's move to Florida when Alan Ream, while under Yurko's sole care, had to be rushed to the hospital with massive subdural hematoma. Alan Ream died in the hospital due to injuries received from massive trauma. The police investigation immediately turned to the child's step father, a convicted violent offender, who was brought in after the reported injuries to the child were consistent with shaken baby syndrome. Yurko attempted to escape from prison, but was unsuccessful, with that charge added to the list. Alan Yurko was tried and convicted of first degree murder, and sentenced to life in prison plus 10 years.
Anti-vaccination quacks latched on to Yurko and attempted to create a martyr from his conviction. An internet campaign was started, called Free Yurko and a mailing list was set up. People were directed to bombard prison officials, courts, and medical doctors with letters demanding an immediate release.
The group took over Yurko's appeal, turning it into a giant tirade of conspiracy and anti-vaccination rants. The case was overturned on appeal and is often argued as a success by anti-vaccination groups. However, it is important to realize that the judge threw out for appeal the reasons not involving vaccination issues. Instead, sloppy work by the medical examiner with a known history of carelessness was viewed as egregious enough to warrant a new trial. The errors were not necessarily related to the findings of shaken baby syndrome, but rather typographical errors such as referring to the child as black when he was white, and mixing up the timing reports for when the organs (which were donated) were removed from the body.
Back in jail
The martyrdom success story for the anti-vaccination group gets pretty muddy after his release. In 1989 Yurko was sentenced in Ohio to 10 to 25 years on four counts of aggravated burglary. He served eight years, and was released on 1996. He soon went off to Florida, a blatant parole violation. Apparently Yurko thought this was okay because he had only two months to go on his parole. Great show of judgement here. He returned to prison in 2006. He's been eligible for parole since 2014 but so far this has been denied and may be in prison until 2022.
The violent nature of the conviction, the fact that he was still in jail, and evidence that Yurko has a long history of confrontations with the law (parole-skipping, escape attempts) mar the otherwise perfect story they want to tell. You will be hard pressed to find any anti-vaccination group that will follow the story past Yurko's successful appeal.
- "Shaken Baby - Conviction Overturned"
- Mike Thomas, Baby's Autopsy By Shashi Gore Settled Nothing. Orlando Sentinel February 17, 2004
- Whitby, Bob (2003-01-23). "Bad science". Orlando Weekly. Retrieved 2010-04-5.