Jurors deliberating in case of Quincy woman accused of killing baby niece

DEDHAM − Existing health conditions and a history of caring for children were among the considerations jurors were asked to consider Wednesday before starting to deliberate in the murder trial of former Quincy resident Shu Feng Hsu.

Attorneys for Hsu and the state gave closing arguments this week in the murder trial that accused the former Quincy resident of killing her infant niece more than five years ago. Hsu, whose trial has lasted two weeks, did not testify. A total of 24 witnesses took the stand.

Jurors in the Norfolk County Superior Court case entered deliberations at about noon Wednesday.

Shu Feng Hsu in Norfolk Superior Court on Monday, March 13, 2023.
Shu Feng Hsu in Norfolk Superior Court on Monday, March 13, 2023.

Hsu is accused of beating her niece, Chloe Chen, so severely that she bruised the baby's face and head and caused brain damage that ultimately led to her death in February 2018.

Hsu was initially arraigned in Quincy District Court on March 22, 2018 − five years to the day before closing arguments were given at her trial. She was arraigned on charges of assault and battery on a child causing serious bodily injury. When the state medical examiner determined that a blunt-force head injury caused Chloe's death, the charges against Hsu were upgraded to murder and her bail was revoked. She has been in jail since.

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Police say baby was beaten until she stopped crying

At the time of the baby's death, Hsu was living at 34 Sewall St. in Quincy. Police say Hsu was home alone with her infant niece when she called 911 and said the baby had gone limp and was not responsive.

As an ambulance took the baby to Boston Medical Center, Chloe suffered multiple seizures, police said. She died two days later from what doctors described as brain injuries and bleeding in her brain.

Police say eight people were living in the Wollaston-area home, including Hsu, her 2-year-old daughter, her husband, Chloe, the baby’s parents and the baby’s grandmother. Police reviewed more than 100 hours of footage from several surveillance cameras inside the home but none of them showed the room where Hsu was alone with the baby for about two hours.

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Though police have not been able to retrieve video footage of the baby’s room, they do have audio recordings from nearby cameras that picked up noises from it. The baby cried for much of the time Hsu was alone with her, police say, until an adult entered the room and the camera picked up a “distinctive dull thump” that police say they did not hear in any of the other many hours of recording they listened to.

“A second thump radiates through the building structure” two seconds later, State Trooper Yuriy Bukhenik wrote in his report. That was followed by 10 more thumps every few seconds, police said.

About 13 seconds after the last one, the crying stopped.

The doctor who performed the autopsy said it appeared “a strike, or a form of impact” caused the injuries.

Scans of 11-month-old Chloe Chen's brain injuries are displayed by the prosecution Monday, March 13, 2023.
Scans of 11-month-old Chloe Chen's brain injuries are displayed by the prosecution Monday, March 13, 2023.

Lawyers present closing arguments

Defense attorney Debra Dewitt said the state did not meet the "very high burden" of proving Hsu guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

She said the audio reveals sound of a woman talking to a baby in a soothing voice, a child crying and the thumping, which could have been a child jumping. She said the state is making leaps when prosecutors say the banging sound is Hsu hitting Chloe.

"Based on guesswork and speculation, (the commonwealth says) those sounds are Ms. Hsu killing Chloe Chen," she said. "What we don't hear is a woman out of control. ... We hear the opposite of that."

Shu Feng Hsu in Norfolk Superior Court Monday, March 13, 2023.
Shu Feng Hsu in Norfolk Superior Court Monday, March 13, 2023.

Dewitt said other video from the home shows Chloe softly hitting her head while playing in the living room and while in her crib in the days leading up to her death, which could have caused the brain injuries that killed her. She also said Chloe had other medical problems.

"There was a misapplication of medicine and science, and it is now combined with misinformation about Chloe Chen's short life," she said. "When did Chloe Chen's symptoms first start? We don't know."

Assistant District Attorney Lisa Beatty said Chloe Chen's injuries could not have been caused by her normal day-to-day life. She said several medical professionals testified that Chloe's injuries were caused by "abusive head trauma."

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"She was developmentally appropriate, healthy, happy that morning," she said of Chloe. "Eleven-month-old babies fall and bump their heads, but this case isn't consistent with a bump on the head. ... All of these medical opinions are consistent with the bumping heard in the clip."

Beatty suggested Hsu was overwhelmed by the baby's crying, which drove her to hurt the baby. She said Hsu called 911 about Chloe's injuries only because she was "scared" by the injuries she'd inflicted.

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Reach Mary Whitfill at mwhitfill@patriotledger.com.

This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Jurors deliberate, closing arguments given in case of Shu Feng Hsu