We need your help!
If you think you can help in any way,
please send e-mail to
AZQuads@Justice.com
Or, call (716) 425-7623! (Ask for Sharon Scinta)
     This is a tragic story of a young couple that had their children torn away from them and wrongfully imprisoned for a total of 177.5 years with no chance of parole.
       I am going to tell you a true story of a family that has been torn apart by lies.  This is not a story of abuse, as the lie would tell.  This family has been broadcasted from Phoenix, Arizona to the United Kingdom.  Her name is Elizabeth Shannon Whittle, we call her Shannon.  Shannon finally had what she wanted out of life, a man that loved and respected her.  A man that loved her family and a man her family accepted with open arms.  Shannon has a daughter from a previous relationship; she became pregnant at 17 years old and gave birth to a beautiful little girl with Down Syndrome.  Shannon had found in Tony a good man that loves her and loves her daughter as if she was his own.  They were living in a one-bedroom apartment in Avondale, Arizona.  They found out they were going to have a set of quadruplets.  This couple was so happy, they knew right away this was a gift from God; they wanted children together and the quads were naturally conceived.  They knew this was going to change their lives, but they had no idea their children would suffer from such agonizing injuries and that they were going to be accused of harming their babies.  Their lives were about to change dramatically.
     When she was pregnant, the public was informed of her situation via the local news stations.  The people in Phoenix opened their hearts and helped this family.  Shannon gave birth to the quads in January of 1998.  When the babies were born, the parents allowed the media to come to the hospital and take pictures of the premature quads to show all that helped this family, exactly who they had helped.  The footage that was captured would be shown for years to come, the photos showed four small beautiful babies lying on their backs with tubes in their noses and IV's in their arms.  Babies that were premature and small enough to fit in an adult hand.  The babies were sent home at 3 weeks of age around three pounds each.  They all had respiratory infections and were sent home on Apnea Monitors.  Again, this family allowed the media to follow the progress of the babies, come into their modest home and take pictures of their growth.  
       Shannon was still trying to recover from the c-section and complications she was having from the birth.  The parents had plans to move into a 4-bedroom house soon.  Shannon would take extra care to feed them, placing a pad on their cheeks to prevent formula from running into their ears, with a fear of the babies getting ear infections.  Shannon would bathe her babies one at a time, first she would wash an arm and quickly dry it so the baby would not get cold, then she would carefully wash other body parts and dry them quickly before moving to the next.  Tony and Shannon took the babies to doctor appointments, however when it came time to circumcise they consulted their parents and a grandparents to see if it was a decision they should make now; they wanted to know what the Bible said about it.  They decided to cancel their doctor appointment while they thought about it for a while.
     In March 1998, the parents noticed baby Anthony did not look right.  They called the doctor and rushed him to the hospital.  He had an elevated temperature.  Bacterial Meningitis was suspected.  The first hospital did a spinal tap and found blood in the fluid so they flew the baby to the local children's hospital.  The typical signs and symptoms of Bacterial Meningitis in newborns and infants are high fever, headache, and stiff neck.  These symptoms can develop over several hours or they may take 1 to 2 days.  Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, confusion, and sleepiness.  In advanced disease, bruises develop under the skin and spread quickly.  As the disease progresses, patients of any age can have seizures.  Advanced bacterial meningitis can lead to brain damage, coma and death.  Survivors can suffer long-term complications, including hearing loss, mental retardation, paralysis, and seizures.  The early signs for children in this age group are persistent fever accompanied by extreme lethargy, where the child is inordinately sleepy or excessively tired.  Further, meningitis typically follows one of the two courses.  The first is a rapid or "acute" onset, where an otherwise healthy child is stricken with an extremely virulent strain of meningitis which overwhelms the patient within 24 hours or less.  The second course meningitis can take, especially in children under two, is a more gradual onset where the child is initially stricken with an ear or UPPER RESPIRATORY INFECTION that "goes south", with the causative organism leaving the initial site of infection and entering the bloodstream.  As the infected blood circulates throughout the body, the organism works its way throughout the body; the organism works its way through the blood-brain barrier infecting the child's cerebral spinal fluid (SPF).  Bacterial Meningitis is fatal in one in 10 cases and one in 7 survivors is left with a severe handicap, such as deafness or brain injury.  People of any age can carry these germs for days, weeks or months without becoming ill.  
       The day after baby Anthony was admitted to the hospital on suspicions of Bacterial Meningitis, Shannon contacted her landlord and asked that they check the pipes in her apartment to make sure he did not contract the bacteria from there.  She also took her other three babies and her 6-year-old with Down syndrome to the soctor to make sure it was not something airborne that any of them could have caught.  These are very concerned parents.  At least five spinal taps were performed on little Anthony while he was hospitalized.  Each could not come up with the diagnosis of meningitis due to blood in the spinal fluid.  Several days into Anthony's hospital stay, a doctor called Shannon to tell her that the following day they would be doing another spinal tap on the baby.  It was a female doctor never to be heard from again and said that she was concerned because the baby definitely had fluid surrounding his brain and referred to it as his "sprinkler system".  The doctor said she could tell because the areas behind his ears, under his eyes and his soft spot were bulging.
     The child's granmother, Anita, went to the hospital the next day but did not get there until after the spinal tap had been performed.  She found a nurse and asked her about the procedure and how hard this had been on the baby.  The nurse responded "No, actually, when we placed him in the position to insert the needle into the spine, he sort of passed out, not feeling the pain".  At that, time Anita thought that was very odd, but the nurse did not seem to think that it was out of the ordinary.  Anita then visited with Little Anthony, his diaper needed to be changed so she scooted him down in his bed just an inch or so and he cried out in definite pain.  The nurse was in the room with her and she said that his back must have been sore from the spinal taps.  That explanation made sense to Anita, only later to find out he had broken bones and skull fractures.  Anita held him, rocked him, and he did not cry anymore.  In fact, he only cried for a second when she moved him to change his diaper and then no more.  She held him for quite a while and he was quiet.  She went to the gift shop and purchased a bright blue balloon to tie to the bed rail so he could look at it, she then wondered why he would not pay attention to it.  She then thought she was just reading into things because she was upset and worried about him.  Baby Anthony was 3 months old and between 6-7 pounds.  Baby Anthony sat in the children's hospital almost ten days, then he was moved without the parent's knowledge, to a rehab center.  Anita called the rehab to ask why her grandson was there.  They told her that it was "an insurance thing" and that they only had a nursing staff, therefore being cheaper.  Anthony then spent a couple days in the rehab and was sent home, still very ill.  The day after he went home his head began to swell and he did not look right.  His parents rushed him back to the hospital and doctors then put a shunt into his brain to drain the fluid from his brain.  His condition (fluid building on his brain) went unrecognized by both the hospital and the rehab center.  
       Tony and Shannon were at the hospital with their son as he was fighting for his life, praying God would help him and heal his body.  The hospital took x-rays of the baby and found skull fractures, broken bones and retinal hemorrhaging.  The hospital suspects abuse and calls Child Protection Service (CPS) and the police.  The police separate Shannon and Tony while Shannon is placed in a supply closet.  Shannon repeatedly asks why the police are asking her questions while her baby may be dying.  She wanted to be with her son.  That's when she realized they were suspecting that she harmed her son.  A woman reports to a CPS worker that she was listening and overheard the mother say "I think I shook it to hard this time, I may have broken its back".  First, Shannon would never call her baby an "it".  At this point, the babies and the parents have been in the media limelight for a while so I am sure the woman knew who they were.  The woman reports this right away to a CPS agent.  Now this is what the jury never knew.  This woman reported this false story to the same CPS agent that was in her home 4 days prior trying to take her child away based on allegations of abuse.  CPS has investigated this woman several times; she has quite the colorful past.  This information was withheld from the jury.  However, the Judge did stop her testimony and send her out of the courtroom and the Judge told the jury he had reason not to believe her testimony, but that was all he would tell them.  Juror Scott Craven works for the Arizona Republic, the local newspaper.  Mr. Craven commented after the trial, "I was alone on my thoughts concerning Shanda Sloan, who testified she'd heard Whittle say at the hospital, 'I think I shook it too hard.'  The 'it' being Anthony Jr.  I thought Sloan may not have been entirely truthful; that she'd overheard just enough to invent the statement.  Glenn Hebert the Jury Forman believed Sloan," said Scott Craven.  "'This is the only thing we have that directly connects Elizabeth to the injuries,' he said. 'For me, that's big.'," Scott Craven, commenting on what he heard his jury foreman say.  Mr. Craven also commented, "I was leaning toward finding Whittle guilty, a decision I hadn't thought I'd reach.  She seemed in agony as police testified about the night Anthony Jr. lay near death in Phoenix Children's Hospital.  We were told that on April 5, 1998, Officers responding to a call of child abuse separated Whittle from Perez and put her in a supply room.  She begged to see Anthony Jr.  I imagined the torture of being so near a gravely injured child and not being allowed to be with him.  We spoke of that testimony on that first day of deliberations.  We'd had no idea where to start, wondering how we were to go about judging two people about whom we knew only what the court wanted us to know." Baby Anthony is now deaf and blind.  Prosecutors claim that he was shaken so hard that he is now deaf and blind.  They neglected to mention that when a shunt over-drains, it reduces the volume of CSF (Cerebral Spinal Fluid) within the ventricles, causing the brain to move inward, away from the meninges.  AS THE BRAIN MOVES INWARD, BLOOD VESSELS IN THE ARACHNOID LAYER OF THE MENINGES ARE TORN, FORMING A SUBDURAL HEMATOMA (A POCKET OF BLOOD) BETWEEN THE ARACHNOID AND DURA LAYERS.  OVER DRAINING OF THE VENTRICLES AND SUBDURAL HEMATOMA ARE JUST ONE OF MANY POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS OF HAVING A SHUNT.  CPS took custody of Baby Anthony; the other three babies and the 6-year-old went to live with their grandmother Anita.  A nurse came over daily and examined the babies.  Megan, one of the quads, did not look right to Anita, so she had the nurse examine her.  The nurse told Anita she is fine.  That she was just worried because of the baby Anthony.  Anita was convinced something was wrong with Megan; her head looked swollen, and her skin was glistening.  The nurse said she was fine.  The next day Anita brought all the babies in for x-rays and CT's.  The nurse ran out of the room with Megan in her arms saying she needed to be rushed to the ER due to fluid building on her brain.  They put a shunt in and drained the fluid.  Megan is now the second child with a shunt and the second with shearing.  The x-rays showed many fractures.  Some were in the healing process.  The parents have no answers except that they did not, nor did anyone in their home, harm their babies.  The community was outraged at what they had learned through the media.  Rumors of what Ms. Shanda Sloan said she overheard that night in the hospital were on every channel and in all the papers.  The public began to convict them in their minds.  Lies were quickly snowballing in the local news.  Pictures were shown on television of the babies covered in bruises in the hospital, tiny with tubes in their noses, and IV's in their hands.  These were pictures from their birth; this is what they looked like when God gave them to this couple.  The births were video taped and CPS took the video when they searched the couple's home.  Now the video is nowhere to be found.  There were no pictures shown on any of the news broadcasts after the babies were considered abused, however the news always presented these pictures of them right after birth and left it to the viewers to assume that is what they looked like after the alleged abuse.  The parents were accused of abusing their precious babies.  Both denied ever harming them, they cried and always stating they would never hurt their babies.  Lead Prosecutor Karen O'Connor was appointed Supreme Court Judge by Gov. Jane Dee Hull before sentencing.  The prosecutor said she wasn't surprised by Whittles' courtroom displays of disbelief."  Throughout the trial, she sobbed and claimed her innocence."  Ms. O'Connor was hesitant to paint Whittle and Perez as monsters, saying only; "They did not live up to their responsibility as parents."  Shannon was arrested in the beginning of October and Tony at the end of October.  Cindy Silverman, the founder of a shelter for battered women posted bail for Shannon and allowed her to live in Cindy's home.  During that time, Anita had Erika.  One day she went to school and CPS took her without even telling Anita.  So, when school let out, Anita waited and worried not knowing what had happened to her grandchild.  She called the school and was informed that CPS took her.  The Judge had ordered Shannon to stay away from Erika and she did.  CPS felt that the Court Order was violated and they took Erika from school.  It took 6 months for Anita to fight and get Erika back.  Shannon never had contact with Erika during that time.  CPS only has the right to remove a child in that manner if the child is in immediate danger, which she was not.
     Then the trial, or shall I say media circus, began.  The parents had to hear such awful accusations that were all untrue; one-day, in court, Shannon became so upset that she actually vomitted on herself.  Shannon's Attorneys worked two years pro-bono; their job was to show that it could have been anyone.  Many people were around the babies.  They asked the Grandmother to testify on the stand; they asked her if it was a possibility that Erika, the then 6-year-old, could have picked up the babies.  Anita answered yes, it is possible that she could have.  Erika wanted to hold the babies.  Anita Whittle had the understanding that the Attorney's were just trying to show that anyone could have harmed the babies, however that line of questioning stopped with Erika.  At no time did anyone in the family suspect or accuse Erika of harming the babies.  The line of questioning infuriated the Judge, Jury, The Public and the Family.  The media circus took the Grandmothers response and splashed it in the paper and on the news.  The next front page of the paper was a bogus article as if it was written by little Erika, stating my Grandmother offered me us as a sacrifice.  This was disgusting.  The parents and the Grandmother never ever said that Erika did that to the babies.  They had no answers except that no one in their home intentionally hurt their babies.  Scott Craven commented, "We spoke first of Erika Whittle, Whittles daughter by a previous relationship.  We needed to let go of the anger most of us harbored toward a defense that tried to pin the injuries on a 6-year-old child with Down syndrome."  "From the stand, Anita Whittle, Whittles mother and Erika's grandmother, suggested Erika had inflicted the injuries to the quadruplets."  That absolutely was not the case; keep in mind Anita was not allowed in the courtroom, so she did not know where they were going with the testimony.  All she knew was that they were going to suggest that anyone could have harmed the babies, not to blame anyone, but to allow the jury to see that others were around the babies.  The jurors mentioned several times how traumatic it was to see pictures of the babies.  Scott Craven said, "We passed around photos of the children as if we were pursuing the family album.  The infants were on their backs, hooked to various tubes and wires.  They didn't seem in pain.  They almost looked comfortable."  "Our only hope was that, when this was over, we would have our lives back.  That we'd no longer be haunted by images of tiny infants attached to machines designed to keep them alive or perhaps ease their pain."  Another reference from Mr. Craven, "This was just one of the images that haunted the 12 of us.  We'd heard of the many fractures, examined photos of four tiny bodies hooked to machines designed to monitor the horrifically injured."  Mr. Craven said, "I tried to balance the justice of Whittle and Perez being locked up against the fate of four children who couldn't defend themselves.  Our options were between 'Guilty' and 'Not Guilty.'  We could not check a box that said, 'Turn back the clock.'" Shannon was sentenced to 172.5 years in prison with no chance of parole.  Tony received a 5-year sentence in prison for failure to seek medical attention.  The babies have been in foster homes and now the parental rights have been severed.  Tony and Shannon had a court hearing in March 2000 to have parental rights severed and Tony's attorney did not even show up so he lost his rights automatically.  
       This man will be free in 5 years.  As far as the Court is concerned, he is not the father of the babies.  The babies were not tested specifically for a genetic disease.  Now, through research, we have found that the babies have symptoms of Osteogenesis Imperfecta.  O.I. is a genetic disorder characterized by bones that break easily - from little or no apparent cause.  This disease effects all of the bones.  The skull is particularly fragile due to undermineralization.  Proper care of O.I. can decrease the risk of additional fractures and promote development of maximum bone density.  The babies are in medically trained foster homes so the potential for injury there will be reduced.  A person with O.I. may sustain just a few or as many as several hundred fractures in a lifetime.  When a child has O.I., fractures may occur during ordinary activities such as changing a diaper or burping the baby.  There may be no obvious indication that a fracture occurred other than the child crying or refusing to put weight on a limb.  Different types of fractures may occur, including rib fractures and spinal fractures, with little or no apparent trauma.  The child may bruise easily, again, with little or no apparent cause.  X-rays may reveal old fractures in various stages of healing that went undetected.  This, indeed, is what happened with these babies.  Shannon's grandmother had brittle bone disease, and there are many genetic diseases on both sides of the family.  We need a geneticist and an appeal attorney to help this family.  The foster families are about to adopt the babies.  Please help.  The Leeza Show had the grandmother, brother, Shannon's attorney and friends such as other supporters and me come as guests of the show.  We have received a positive response from the public that saw that show.  If you think you can help in any way, please send email to AZQuads@Justice.com or you can call me at (716) 425-7623!  - Sharon Scinta -
If you think you can help in any way,
please send e-mail to
AZQuads@Justice.com
Or, call (716) 425-7623! (Ask for Sharon Scinta)
We need your help!
The Falsely Accused Parents Web Ring
Falsely Accused This Site Is Owned By:
Sharon Scinta


Join the Falsely Accused Parents ring
Next
[Prev Page] [Skip Next] [Next 5] [Random Site] [List Sites]
Inspired by
The A-Team


FastCounter by bCentral