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Archives: Tinning Convicted of Murdering Infant Daughter

Archives: Tinning Convicted of Murdering Infant Daughter

How The Gazette covered Marybeth Tinning's conviction, July 18, 1987
Archives: Tinning Convicted of Murdering Infant Daughter
The Gazette page from July 18, 1987 announcing Marybeth Tinning's conviction
Photographer: Gazette file/Google News

Editor's Note: This article appeared in the July 18, 1987 Schenectady Gazette, announcing Marybeth Tinning's conviction. State officials confirmed Sunday that Tinning has been granted parole after 31 years in custody.

SCHENECTADY - Marybeth Tinning was convicted by a Schenectady County Court jury yesterday of murdering her 4-month-old daughter Tami Lynne 19 months ago.

A seven-man, five-woman jury found Mrs. Tinning guilty of reckless murder, but acquitted her of a charge of intentional murder.

The verdict came after a three-week trial on a two-count second-degree murder indictment which said she smothered her daughter to death with a pillow Dec. 20, 1985, to stop her from crying.

Also See Monday: Child killer Marybeth Tinning granted parole

Mrs. Tinning, 44, faces a maximum prison term of 25 years to life when she is sentenced at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 21.

Although County Judge Clifford T. Harrigan also could sentence her to a maximum of 15 years to life. District Attorney John B. Poersch said he will ask that the maximum be imposed.

Unless Harrigan determines otherwise, Mrs. Tinning will serve her sentence at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women, Westchester County.

Immediately after the jury announced its verdict, Mrs. Tinning's defense lawyer, Paul M. Callahan, asked Harrigan to set it aside on the ground it was based on insufficient evidence.

Harrigan denied his request.

He then revoked the $100,000 bail in which Mrs. Tinning had been free for the past 16 months and ordered her held in the Schenectady County Jail until sentencing.

Callahan later said he will appeal from the conviction, all the way to the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, if necessary.

His first appeal will be to the state Supreme Court Appellate Division, Albany.

However, he will not be able to file an appeal until after Mrs. Tinning is sentenced because yesterday's verdict will not become an official judgement of conviction until sentencing is imposed.

The jury, which began deliberating Wednesday, notified Harrigan about 2:30 yesterday afternoon that it had reached a verdict. 

Ten minutes later, it announced that it found Mrs. Tinning innocent of the second-degree murder count in which she was accused of intentionally causing Tami Lynn's death.

It then said it found her guilty of the count which said she had such a depraved indifference to human life that she created a grave risk of death for Tami Lynne and that she disregarded that risk by reckless conduct which led to her daughter's death.

Each of the 12 members of the jury was polled individually as to whether he or she agreed with the innocent verdict for the one count and the guilty verdict for the other. Each said he or she agreed.

Jurors would not discuss their deliberations with members of the media after they were discharged by Harrigan.

Mrs. Tinning displayed no reaction when the jury announced that it found her innocent of intentional murder.

She appeared stunned by the guilty verdict on the second count.

She lowered her head into her left hand,  then turned and looked impassively at the jury.

She then turned and whispered something to her husband, Joseph, who sat by her side throughout almost three full days of jury deliberation.

Mrs. Tinning then began to cry and for several moments alternated between crying and attempts to stem the tears.

She turned to Callahan several times and whispered to him, but what she said could not be heard beyond the table where she sat with her lawyer and her husband.

She also seemed not to believe that Harrigan had revoked her bail, that he had set a sentencing date and that she had been ordered held in the county jail.

Also See Monday: Child killer Marybeth Tinning granted parole

er husband later described Mrs. Tinning as "very upset" by the verdict. He said, "She couldn't believe it."

He also said the jury, "did its job. I just have a different opinion."

Callahan said he tried to "calm her down." He said he told her there are "a good number of grounds for appeal and we'll be successful."

After the verdict was announced, print and television reporters and photographers crowded into the narrow corridor and a small doorway leading into the second floor courtroom where the trial was held.

When it came time to take Mrs. Tinning to the adjacent County Jail, Sheriff Bernard T. Waldron and two corrections officers formed a human wedge which slammed its way through a wall of reporters and photographers.

Mrs. Tinning seemed numb, shocked and almost terror-stricken, but she said nothing as she was rushed in a matter of seconds to a door which opens onto a pedestrian bridge connecting the second floor of the Judicial Building to the jail.

The bridge is not a public bridge but is used by corrections officers escorting prisoners to and from court appearances.

The door closed and Mrs. Tinning was on her way to her first night in jail since March 19, 1986,  the date she was released on $100,000 bail pending the outcome of her trial.

Because of overcrowding in the local jail, Mrs. Tinning was held in the Oneida County Jail for six weeks between her arrest and Harrigan's acceptance of a $10,000 certified check and a $90,000 partially secured bond as bail.

The bail was posted b her husband, her mother-in-law, Edna and Joseph Tinning, of Duanesburg, and two friends, Joseph G. Hartley Jr. and his wife Barbara.

Tami Lynne's death five days before Christmas 1985 Occurred in the second floor flat at 367 Michigan Ave. where the Tinnings lived. They have since moved to a home they bought on Red Oak Lane, Ballston Spa.

At the time she was arrested, police said she was a suspect in the deaths of seven of eight other Tinning children, one of them an adopted son.

Only the January 1972 death of Jennifer Tinning at the age of 8 days was not considered suspicious.

Although a county grand jury last year looked into some of the other deaths, it was disbanded in December without filing any additional charges against Mrs. Tinning.

At the time, Poersch said the investigation was continuing and that evidence could be presented to any grand jury in the future.

The jury's notification to Harrigan that it had reached its verdict came about 40 minutes after it resumed deliberations following a re-reading by Harrigan of a portion of his Wednesday law charge to the jury as to the elements of the two murder counts which the prosecution had to prove to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt before a guilty verdict could be rendered. 

With the exception of an hour-long lunch break, it was the only time the jury interrupted yesterday's deliberations. 

By its verdict, the jury accepted a prosecution contention that Tami Lynne died of asphyxia by suffocation resulting from the smothering and rejected a defense contention that Tami Lynne died of an always fatal, hereditary disorder known as Werdning-Hoffmann syndrome.

Its verdict also indicated it found two confessions in which Mrs. Tinning admitted killing Tami Lynne and her sons Nathan and Timothy to be truthful and voluntary and that it rejected her defense that they were obtained by "deceit and trickery" and in violation of her Constitutional rights.

Callahan said, however, that the confession would form the primary part of his appeal because "I think we proved they were taken illegally."

The jury apparently rejected intentional murder because Mrs. Tinning said in her confessions that "I didn't mean to hurt her." She said she "just wanted her to stop crying" when she put the pillow over Tami Lynne's face some 4 1/2 hours after returning from a shopping trip in which most of her purchases were Christmas presents for Tami Lynne. 

In finding her guilty of reckless murder, the jury apparently agreed that Mrs. Tinning must have known of the "grave risk of death" she created for Tami Lynne when she used the pillow as a means to stop the crying.

The prosecution based its case primarily on Mrs. Tinning's confessions and on the testimony of Dr. Thomas F. D. Oram, a Schenectady pathologist who participated in an autopsy on Tami Lynne about eight hours after her death.

Callahan's defense primarily was based on an attempt to discredit the confessions and on a diagnosis by Dr. Jack N. P. Davies, an Albany pathologist, that the cause of death was Werdnig-Hoffmann syndrome, a child's form of creeping paralysis.

The verdict came just 48 hours after the jury began the lengthy deliberations which required that it be sequestered for two nights in a local motel.

Also See Monday: Child killer Marybeth Tinning granted parole

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