Alan Butts - Ohio Innocence Project

Alan Butts served 20 years in prison for a murder he did not commit and always maintained his innocence.

Alan was wrongfully convicted in 2003 of the murder of his girlfriend’s two-year-old son, a death that medical authorities then attributed to violent shaking or “Shaken Baby Syndrome.”

Cases involving infants and young children who died with certain types of bleeding within the brain and little or no evidence of external injury were thought to have been shaken violently, with the culprit most often believed to be the person who was last with the child. In Alan’s case, being the last person to be with the child led the prosecution to focus on him and ignore all other possibilities.

Since 2003, medical understanding of Shaken Baby Syndrome, now also known as “Abusive Head Trauma,” has vastly advanced. Genetic conditions, infections, diseases, accidents, strokes, bleeding disorders, and other afflictions are now more often identified as the true cause of death or injury in infants once thought to have been victims of Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Alan has been represented by OIP Professor of Clinical Law Donald Caster, an expert in Shaken Baby Syndrome cases, for many years.   Donald and his teams of law students eventually succeeded in winning a new trial for Alan.  A Franklin County Common Pleas Court judge allowed Alan to be freed from prison pending that trial, and Alan was released from confinement late in the evening of December 8, 2022.  The state’s attempt to appeal the decision granting Alan a new trial was denied by the Ohio Court of Appeals, and on February 12, 2024, the prosecution dismissed the case against Alan.

Alan has regained the company of his family in the Columbus area. He is a talented artist and craftsman, whose work has been displayed in galleries around the state.

Learn more about Alan through the work of extraordinary filmmaker Barry Rowen’s video of Alan soon after his release, available here.