Snapshot Device Helps Clear Father in Baby’s Death

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CLEVELAND-- Two years after an infant died, her father has been acquitted of charges in connection with her death because of something in his car.

beardMichael Beard, 28, was found not guilty by a jury on Monday in a Cuyahoga County courtroom.

The former nursing assistant was accused of suffocating his seven-month-old daughter in May of 2011.

According to Beard’s defense lawyer, Beard stopped by his daughter’s mom’s house on West 122nd Street when he found Lynniah unresponsive in her infant swing.

Beard immediately took the child to the hospital where she later died.

Authorities accused Beard of suffocating his daughter so she would start crying to get her mother’s attention.

“We’re all sad that baby Lynniah died. There was no reason for that; but it was an accident,” said Michael Cheselka, Jr., Beard’s lawyer. “She, mom, had been told to put the baby in the swing and let it sleep upright because it had acid reflux disease but any baby that size can slump down and not have the strength to lift its head up.”

Beard’s case wrapped-up on Monday when a jury found him not guilty.

A key piece of evidence was a Snapshot device from Progressive. The insurance company offers the device to customers looking to lower their rates.

According to a statement from the company, “[the] Progressive Snapshot is an optional program where you plug a small device into your car to record your safe driving habits in exchange for personalized insurance rates based on your actual driving behavior.  The device doesn’t have GPS or know who’s driving the car, so it doesn’t track vehicle location or know whether you're speeding. Snapshot tracks how often you slam on the brakes, how many miles you drive and time of day.”

In this case, the information was able to prove that Beard wasn’t in the house long enough to kill his daughter.  “He said, I can prove to you I was not there long enough to do what they’re accusing me of doing,” said the attorney.

“I think it’s great that we’ve got technology like that because he would’ve spend his life in jail for nothing,” said a Cleveland resident.  “Yeah, it’s a good thing,” said another Cleveland resident.  “If he didn’t have it, he’d be sitting in jail – couldn’t prove his innocence!”

A spokesperson for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office told FOX 8 News, “Our office is respectfully declining to comment on the outcome of this case.  The case is now over. Michael Beard was found not guilty.”

Beard’s attorney said his client now hopes to get his job back so he can support his two other children.

“He still grieves for the loss of his daughter and now he can do so without also carrying around the mantle of being falsely accused of murder,” said Cheselka.