Michael Hansen is a free man, for good, after the Douglas County Attorney's Office dropped all charges against the man who spent six years in prison for allegedly killing his own infant daughter. Hansen was freed in mid-August, and had a retrial set to begin later this month.
But on Friday, prosecutors decided to drop the case against Hansen, 34, whom a jury found guilty in May 2004, and sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Hansen's case became a cause for the Innocence Project, which sought to prove that the evidence against the father was the result of sloppiness by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner. The Douglas County Attorney agreed, sending out a statement on Friday that "the State no longer believes that it can prove [Hansen's] guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," Minnesota Public Radio reports.
The Innocence Project had five doctors review the evidence against Hansen, and each of them disagreed with Ramsey County's examiner, Michael McGee, who'd determined that Hansen's 4-month-old daughter, Avyronna, died of head trauma.
The Innocence Project's experts found that Avyronna did have a skull fracture from a previous, unrelated incident, but the most likely cause of death was suffocation: Avyronna had been sleeping on her stomach next to Hansen at the time of her death.
Hansen appeared at a press conference Saturday to express not bitterness over his original conviction, but relief at his second chance at life, according to MPR.
"I'm very ecstatic about it," Hansen, 34, said at a news conference Saturday. "I'm glad for this to be over, and I just want to get back to work, be with my kids and my family."
The questioning of McGee's testimony led to his becoming the subject of a state administrative review, which lasted less than one full day, and found that he'd been "in compliance with Minnesota statues," as MPR reported earlier in September.