Charges dismissed against man convicted of suffocating baby girl in 1998

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Charges dismissed against man convicted of suffocating toddler, Steve Campion reports. (Montgomery County Sheriff's Office)

Charges were dismissed today against a man who was convicted in the 1998 suffocation death of a baby girl.

Neal Hampton Robbins was convicted and sentenced to life in the killing a 17-month-old girl.

Deputies removed the handcuff and shackles from Robbins in court today after the judge granted the state's motion to dismiss all charges in the case due to insufficient evidence.

In addition to his ruling, the judge added that justice is real and alive in state.

The Texas Tribune reports Robbins was convicted in the death of his girlfriend's daughter, Tristen Skye Trivet. Robbins had been caring for Tristen for hours while her mother was out. Tristen's mother checked on her once after Robbins left and thought the child was sleeping. When she checked 20 minutes later, she found that Tristen's lips were blue and that she was not breathing. Tristen was pronounced dead, and Robbins was later arrested and charged with capital murder. He was convicted in 1999 and sentenced to life in prison.

The Texas Tribune reports in 2007, the original pathologist in the case, Dr. Patricia Moore, recanted her earlier conclusions at Robbins' trial that the death was a homicide, and Robbins' legal team has worked to get him a new trial. Moore has had a handful of infant death cases reviewed and conclusions changed because her findings of homicide failed to stand up on re-examination.

In Tristen's case, Moore later reassessed her conclusions, saying she should have ruled the manner of death "undetermined" instead of "homicide."

Robbins' case was buoyed by the 2013 passage of a state law that gave defendants a new challenge if they could prove that there had been a change in the science behind evidence presented at trial.

The mother who lost Baby Tristen told Eyewitness News today, "In my opinion, Neal lucked out because of Patricia Moore and I hope that Patricia is never allowed to touch another person, child, to do anything like what they have put me and my family through for the past 18 years, and I'm sorry, but I don't believe that Mr. Robbins is innocent."

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