MICHIGAN (WJRT) - A lot of people who are locked up in prison or jail say they're innocent - but what if it was actually true? What if you spent nearly five years in prison for a crime you didn't commit? It really happened to a woman in Michigan.
Thirteen years ago, Julie Baumer was in her early 20's, with a successful career as a mortgage loan banker in Warren. Julie's sister was pregnant and had fallen on hard times, so Julie said she would raise the baby - adopting him as her own. She never imagined that act of kindness would land her in prison.
“When they said 'guilty', I just, it was almost as if I had left my body and it was just like, 'Is this really happening?' It was just a complete nightmare, unreal,” Baumer said.
How did Baumer get to that point - of serving time in prison for a crime she didn't do?
It started when her nephew, Philip, was born. From his mom having an induced labor too early, to spending time in the NICU, Philip's first few days on earth were tough. Finally, he went home to Baumer. It was after a few blissful weeks of bonding that Baumer noticed something was wrong with her newly-adopted baby.
"When he was about 5 weeks old, he stopped eating for me,” she said. Baumer took Philip to the hospital, terrified as doctors put him on an IV and started to run tests. The baby was then quickly transferred to Detroit Children's Hospital, where more test were run.
Baumer went home worried, but trusting everything would be OK.
"The following Monday, I received a call from the sheriff's department, asking if I would come in to interview. And I was a little confused because I wasn't sure exactly what that was all about. They proceeded to question me about Philip and, of course, he's in the hospital, we're not sure what's wrong with him. And about 20 minutes into the interview, I realized that they were looking at me as a suspect and that they were suspecting that he had been shaken, if you will, or a victim of child abuse,” Baumer said.
Baumer was in complete shock, unable to understand how anyone could think she would hurt the baby she loved as a son. She was charged with first degree child abuse.
"Pretty much that's when the real nightmare began,” Baumer said.