Pallavi Macharla of Burlington, MA Found Guilty of Second-Degree Murder of 6-Month Old, Sentenced to Life in Prison

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Dr. Pallavi Macharla Takes Stand in Own Defense (Photo courtesy: NBC Boston)

BURLINGTON – Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Burlington Chief of Police Michael Kent have announced that Pallavi Macharla, 44, of Burlington, was found guilty on May 13 of second-degree murder by a Middlesex Superior Court Jury in connection with the March 2014 death of six-month-old Ridhima Dhekane who died while in the defendant’s care.

Judge Kenneth Fishman sentenced the defendant to life with the possibility of parole, according to a press release.

“On the morning of March 27, 2014, the day after she turned six months old, the victim was dropped off at the defendant’s home, a perfectly healthy infant, and by the afternoon she was unresponsive and had sustained serious injuries,” said District Attorney Ryan. “The victim’s family trusted Ms. Macharla to protect and care for their child. In part that trust was due to the defendant’s background as a trained medical professional. However, at about 2:40 p.m., when the baby became unresponsive while in the defendant’s care, Ms. Macharla called the victim’s mother instead of dialing 911.”

“The loss of any child is tragic,” said Burlington Chief of Police Michael Kent. “To lose an innocent and defenseless child in such a violent and senseless manner is devastating. I extend my deepest condolences to the victim’s family. No guilty verdict can ever bring their loved one back, but I hope they will find some comfort in knowing the defendant will now be held accountable.”

On March 27, 2014, the day after her six-month birthday, the victim was left in the care of a neighbor, Pallavi Macharla, who regularly provided child care for the baby. At approximately 2:40 p.m., Macharla called the baby’s mother to say Ridhima was not responsive.

Ridhima’s mother raced to Macharla’s home and saw Macharla performing mouth-to-mouth respirations on her daughter who was limp and non-responsive. The mother immediately called 911. The defendant reported that the baby became unresponsive after vomiting following a feeding. First responders who arrived at the residence on Baron Park Lane in Burlington found the baby unresponsive and pulseless. The child was transported by ambulance to Lahey Hospital and then to Boston Children’s Hospital.

The victim never regained consciousness. Diagnostic tests and studies were performed, which revealed that the baby was suffering from hemorrhaging on the brain and behind the retinas. The victim was also found to have multiple fractures to her spine which were dated to have been inflicted on March 27, 2014. The medical team found that the injuries were consistent with Abusive Head Trauma and that any attempts at surgical intervention would have been futile due to the severity of the bleeding and swelling on the victim’s brain.

During subsequent interviews, authorities learned that the defendant had made past statements describing the victim as fussy and in need of constant attention. This led investigators to believe that the motivation for the shaking injuries and blunt force trauma occurred as a result of the defendant’s frustration with her. Authorities also learned that Macharla had earned a medical degree in India before immigrating to the United States.

Following an autopsy overseen by Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Henry Nields, the cause of death was ruled blunt force trauma and shaking injuries of head and the manner of death was homicide.

The defendant was directly indicted by a Middlesex Superior Court Grand Jury and arraigned on March 27, 2015, exactly one year after she caused the victim’s injuries.

This case was investigated by the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, the Burlington Police Department and State Police assigned to the office of Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.

The prosecutors assigned to this case were Chief of the Child Protection Unit Katharine Folger and Assistant District Attorney Kate Cimini. The Victim Witness Advocates were Susie Marshall and Cheri MacDonald. The Paralegal was Kelsey Hutchinson.

At today’s sentencing Umesh Dhekane, Ridhima’s father, Jyoti Dhekane, Ridhima’s mother and Sachin Suryawanshi, the victim’s uncle, delivered victim impact statements.

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