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Father who killed his baby son for life insurance finally convicted.

“He murdered my son, for a life insurance policy.”

Bereaved mother, Tiffany Paris, was certain that her ex-partner was guilty of their infant’s murder, despite the final verdict taking 15 years to be determined.

Only this week Moussa Sissko was found guilty of the child-abuse killing of his three-month-old son, Shane, in 2001 when he was 22.

Giving testimony at his retrial Paris was asked to identify a photograph. Asked who was in it, she replied: “My son… and the man who murdered my son.”

Sissoko was Paris’ “first real boyfriend”. They started their relationship in 1999 whilst Paris was still in high school in Montgomery County, Maryland, in the United States.

By Autumn of 2000, Paris had fallen pregnant.

A short time later, Sissoko moved to college in Florida.

He told Paris “I don’t want you to have it anymore”, asking her to terminate the pregnancy.

Despite requesting Paris have an abortion, Sissoko returned to Maryland for Shane’s birth on June 29, 2001.

On September 15, 2001 Sissoko was caring for Shane while Paris was at work. At 2:03pm he called 911 claiming that Shane was unresponsive and bleeding.

Paramedics took Shane to the local hospital. But despite being on a ventilator for ten days, he never regained consciousness.

“Why would you put a $998,000 policy on a newborn infant?”

In 2001, Sissoko took on a job and moved in with Paris after the birth of Shane.

But at the same time, Sissoko began pursuing a $US750,000 ($998,000) life insurance policy for Shane, naming himself as sole beneficiary.

A representative  of the insurance company told Sissoko that baby Shane would have to have a medical evaluation.

So Sissoko told Paris that a doctor would visit their home in relation to a health insurance matter. When she questioned him about it, Sissoko told her he would cancel the appointment.

Instead documents shown to the court show that Sissoko arranged for the evaluation to be done whilst Paris was at work.

Suspicious of Sissoko’s behaviour, Paris also learned of messages left at their home from the insurer.

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Sissoko assured her they were related to car and renter’s insurance. When questioned over the policy, Sissoko claimed that the policy was a form of college savings plan. 

In the end, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Michael Mason ruled against Sissoko in the final Jjudge-only trial that sealed his fate.

He identified medical evidence, as well as the seeking of a life insurance policy for the baby as crucial determining factors.

“Any reasonable person is going to ask: ‘Why would you put a $US750,000 policy on a newborn infant?’ It frankly defies logic and reason,” Mason said.

The retrial.

In 2002, Sissoko was sentenced to life in prison for the death.

He appealed the conviction, lost, and then claimed in a subsequent appeal that his lawyer was ineffective.

In 2015, Ronald Rubin (a different Montgomery Circuit judge) agreed to a retrial of Sissoko.

Judge Rubin’s opinion challenged the medical debates at the heart of the case, and was based on failures of Sissoko’s original defence lawyer. Including a decision to rely upon a less qualified neuropathologist instead of calling forth a pediatric neuroradiologist as a witness to discuss Shane’s medical condition and injuries.

Pending the outcome of the new trial, Sissoko remained incarcerated.

In the new trial, the focus was on the argument that “the trauma was insufficient to leave external evidence of the point of the impact,” given that there were no marks left on Shane.

Prosecutors Deborah Feinstein and Sherri Koch said that head trauma was inflicted on Shane. But Sissoko’s defence counsel argued that it was not possible to determine whether Shane died of accidental or natural causes, or something else.

Sissoko’s lawyer, Robert Bonsib, argued the case was “a medical mystery”. He said killing Shane was not Sissoko’s plan.

“His son died. He was as devastated as anybody by it, and he’s had to spend a long time in jail.”

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“…he’s had to spend a long time in jail.” (Image via iStock.)
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Moving forward.

But Judge Mason’s final verdict was conclusive, and it did not support Sissoko’s version of the facts.

He ruled that Shane had “gone from a healthy, normal fine young baby boy, to all of a sudden what is described as basically a comatose child who is not breathing and with blood coming from his nose”.

“The defendant inflicted abusive head trauma upon the deceased that was the cause of his death – by either shaking and/or causing soft impact trauma to the child,” he said.

After all this time, Tiffany Paris is relieved that justice has been served for the murder of her child.

It was “like a weight lifted off my shoulders”, she said after the verdict was handed down.

Paris is now 34, with a nine-year-old daughter, Shanna. Only within the past few years has she opened up to her daughter about the ordeal.

She regularly visits Shane’s grave, leaving gifts on his birthdays and on holidays.

Sissoko remains behind bars, and will receive a new sentence on May 26.

If he were alive today, baby Shane would be almost 15-years-old.