WOBURN — The lawyer for Aisling Brady McCarthy, the nanny accused of fatally beating a 1-year-old girl she was caring for, argued Friday that evidence showing the child had serious preexisting injuries undercuts the government’s charges.
“This changes the case entirely,” Melinda Thompson said at a hearing in Middlesex Superior Court.
Medical specialists enlisted by Middlesex County prosecutors recently concluded that the child, Rehma Sabir, had sustained fractures to her vertebrae at least three weeks before she was fatally injured at her Cambridge home in January 2013. At that time, she was traveling with her mother and was not in McCarthy’s care.
“Someone else did that,” Thompson said. She has maintained McCarthy’s innocence and said McCarthy is devastated by the child’s death.
Prosecutors say that Rehma Sabir died from massive head injuries sustained while in McCarthy’s exclusive care on Jan. 14, 2013, and that the timing of the fractures did not affect the central charges.
The preexisting injuries “are not directly alleged in the first-degree murder indictment,’’ said Assistant District Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. “It’s the head injuries.”
There was no question those injuries happened while McCarthy was the “sole provider for the child,” he said.
The infant’s blood was also found at the scene, and the wall next to her changing table was badly damaged.
Thompson was seeking to have McCarthy released on $5,000 bail while awaiting trial. Judge S. Jane Haggerty took the request under consideration and scheduled a hearing for Feb. 21.
McCarthy’s relatives attended the hearing, but declined to speak to reporters.
Thompson criticized the prosecution for delays in the case and said lack of access to evidence was hurting her ability to prepare for trial, which is scheduled to begin in early April. She said she may request a delay.
“Medical evidence is still being discovered, quite literally a year after Ms. McCarthy was arrested,” she said. “We will not be going to trial at the expense of Ms. McCarthy.”
McCarthy, a native of Ireland who was living here illegally, has surrendered her passport and does not pose a flight risk, Thompson said.
“She wants to stay in this country and fight these charges,” she said.
Fitzgerald said that if McCarthy were freed on bail, immigration officials would be mandated to deport her because of the nature of her violation.John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Peter Schworm can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.