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Burlington day-care provider charged in baby death

Woman linked to “shaken baby” injuries, DA says

Burlington resident Pallavi Macharla was escorted into Middlesex Superior Court for her arraignment Friday.
Burlington resident Pallavi Macharla was escorted into Middlesex Superior Court for her arraignment Friday.WCVB-TV

WOBURN — A Burlington woman has been charged with murder and with operating an unlicensed child-care program in connection with the death last year of a 6-month-old girl in her care, the Middlesex district attorney’s office announced Friday.

Tests performed following the infant’s death suggest that she died after being shaken while in the care of the woman, Pallavi Macharla, 40, said Jacquelyn Goddard, a spokeswoman for Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan, in the announcement.

Goddard said tests showed the baby had sustained multiple compression fractures to her spine that dated to March 27, 2014, and that were consistent with injuries seen in shaken babies. The tests also revealed hemorrhaging beneath membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord, and in the eyes, and separation of tissues in the baby’s eyes, she added.

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A medical team determined that the injuries were consistent with abusive head trauma, Goddard said.

Macharla was arraigned Friday in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn, and Judge Douglas Wilkens ordered her to be held without bail pending a custody hearing next week, Goddard said.

In the statement, Ryan said the child’s death was “a stark reminder” that programs to educate people about the dangers of shaking babies must continue.

“It is striking how we still see such disregard for human life in certain cases in which adults leave children alone, fail to get medical help for infants in medical distress, and physically abuse someone so young,” she said.

Outside the court building Friday afternoon, Macharla’s lawyer, Vikas S. Dhar, declined to discuss the case.

“We’re not going to have any comment today. There’s going to be a hearing in the matter next week,” Dhar said.

Macharla’s arraignment fell on the one-year anniversary of the death of the infant, who was regularly left in her care, Goddard said. The baby and her family were not identified.

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On March 27, 2014, Macharla called the baby’s mother at 2:40 p.m. to tell her that the infant was not breathing, Goddard said. The mother arrived at Macharla’s home on Baron Park Lane in Burlington to find Macharla performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the baby, who was “limp and nonresponsive,” according to Goddard.

The mother quickly called 911.

Macharla said at the time that the infant had vomited after a feeding and then had become unresponsive. The child was not breathing and had no pulse when emergency personnel arrived at the scene, and she was taken by ambulance to Lahey Hospital and then to Boston Children’s Hospital, Goddard said.

The child was pronounced dead on March 30, 2014.

Macharla did not have a day-care license, and was cited by the state Department of Early Education and Care for allegedly providing unlicensed child care in her home, according to the district attorney’s office.

Burlington Police Chief Michael Kent praised investigators “for their diligence.”

“This is a terribly tragic situation involving the loss of a young, innocent life,” Kent said in a statement.


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.