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CNN SPECIAL REPORTS
Special Report; Broken Bones, Shattered Lives. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired February 17, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daddy, can I get a chip?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN NEWS REPORTER: An All-American family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're very happy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was exciting. I wanted a son.
CASAREZ: Destroyed after a shocking trip to the ER.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some doctor starts screaming at both of us.
CASAREZ: Their two-month-old baby had 13 broken bones.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The conclusion was that this was definitely child abuse.
CASAREZ: Relatives accused each other.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Took the baby and did this with him.
JIM DUNCAN CONVICTED OF CHILD ABUSE: My name is James Duncan. I was convicted of 13 counts of aggravated child abuse.
CASAREZ: More than two decades into a 70-year prison sentence, the baby at the heart of it all is now a man, fighting for his father's release.
KODY DUNCAN, SON OF JIM DUNCAN: I never once had a doubt that he hurt me. I don't believe it.
CASAREZ: How did it happen?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a bad diagnosis.
CASAREZ: Now new evidence...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The healing had already started at this point. CASAREZ: ...could end a family's nightmare.
KODY DUNCAN: If he was out here right now I'd never let him go.
CASAREZ: Tonight, a CNN Special Report, Broken Bones, Shattered Lives.
Oil City, Pennsylvania, April, 1995. Jim Duncan was doing one of his favorite things, goofing off with his sons Kevin and Kody.
JIM DUNCAN: I love them both with all my heart.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daddy, can I get a chip?
JIM DUNCAN: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's terrific.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had nicknames for us like Tiger Boy and stuff like that.
CASAREZ: Kevin Duncan was four years old.
DUNCAN: He's like my best friend.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He had gifts for them and played with them, and they had a great time.
CASAREZ: Ronda Duncan was nearby watching her boys play with their dad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going to get me.
RONDA DUNCAN, JIM DUNCAN'S EX-WIFE, MOTHER OF KEVIN AND KODY: Jimmy was a wonderful person. He was devoted to his family.
JIM DUNCAN: I think I had a three-day week and I'd spent with them. I am holding Kevin and Kody, sitting down and Kevin has my Orlando Magic hat on. I had given a Miami Dolphin necklace and I'm just spending time with him.
CASAREZ: Yet this was the last father-son play date they'd ever have. Jim Duncan was out on bail awaiting trial in a devastating child abuse case. charged with abusing his younger son Kody.
JIM DUNCAN: It was tough leaving him when I went to visit him because I knew that I'd be going to trial and I didn't know what would happen.
KODY DUNCAN: I really don't remember that visit at all. And if I did, I probably wouldn't even have known it was my father.
JIM DUNCAN: And I thought everything was going to come out good. That was the last time I really got to be with them.
CASAREZ: Today at the Avon Park Correctional Institution in Central Florida, Jim Duncan is known as inmate 165332. JIM DUNCAN: It took the prime chunk out of my life. I basically have
lived for them these past 20 years. I just remember always praying, you know, God let me out before they turn six, before they turn eight. I wanted to have some of their childhood.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many cards we get?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seven.
CASAREZ: But his children are now men.
KEVIN DUNCAN: It's a struggle emotionally. It's taken a huge toll on my life.
CASAREZ: Duncan is 22 years into a 70-year prison sentence.
You've never had a criminal record?
JIM DUNCAN: No.
CASAREZ: How tough was it?
JIM DUNCAN: Very tough. It's a degrading, dehumanizing experience, but the worst part is being away from your family, the separation, especially from my sons.
KODY DUNCAN: He said that he would never have done that to me. And I mean I was too young, so I believe him.
CASAREZ: Kody was just two months old when their lives came crashing down.
When did you first realized that something wasn't right?
RONDA DUNCAN: I kept bringing him to the doctor and saying, you know, my baby is crying all the time.
CELESTE BONNELL, MOTHER OF JIM DUNCAN: This is Kevin and Cody.
CASAREZ: Jim's mother Celeste Bonnell babysat from time to time.
BONNELL: I kept telling Ronda, there's something wrong. This baby just cries so much.
RONDA DUNCAN: The doctor says oh, it's colic, don't worry about it. He gives a prescription for Phenobarbital to be giving Kody. And so, I was giving him the medication and he still kept crying.
BONNELL: Finally at one point I said to her, "Colic my foot, there's something wrong."
CASAREZ: There was something wrong, very wrong.
When you heard that news...?
RONDA DUNCAN: I literally had an out-of-body-experience. I, seeing myself sitting in a chair looking at myself saying what is going on? What is happening? This can't be.
CASAREZ: When we come back, the unraveling of the Duncan family.
JIM DUNCAN: I always thought I failed as a father to protect my son, because I didn't know what happened to him.
RONDA DUNCAN: I really didn't know what was going on. I was a young kid and these people ruined my life.
CASAREZ: Twenty-four-year-old Kody Duncan hasn't seen his father since he was two years old.
KODY DUNCAN: Hey, Dad.
JIM DUNCAN: Hey.
CASAREZ: He only knows him from two phone calls a week.
JIM DUNCAN: How are you doing, have you been okay?
KODY DUNCAN: Yes. I am doing pretty good.
CASAREZ: Because in the eyes of the law, he is the victim of his father's crimes, so not allowed prison visitations.
JIM DUNCAN: How is your mom doing?
KODY DUNCAN: She is doing pretty good.
JIM DUNCAN: At first it was, you know, it only lasts a few minutes. You know, he's three or three and a half and he gets distracted. But I've talked to him every single week since that age.
I was looking at the football schedule.
KODY DUNCAN: I saw it. Yes, Miami plays the Steelers.
It's kind of funny, we always talk about our sports and I like the Pittsburgh Steelers. And he likes the Miami Dolphins. So I always make fun of him about that.
JIM DUNCAN: Yes, too bad, too bad you want to stay that way.
KODY DUNCAN: No, never.
CASAREZ: Jim Duncan is serving a 70-year sentence for aggravated child abuse.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have one minute left.
CASAREZ: He's been behind bars for more than two decades.
JIM DUNCAN: I will call you when you get back, okay?
KODY DUNCAN: All right.
JIM DUNCAN: All right, love you.
KODY DUNCAN: Love you too.
JIM DUNCAN: All right, bye-bye.
KODY DUNCAN: Bye.
I wish I could talk to him in person. You know, it hurts because I just wish I could see my dad.
CASAREZ: In the early '90s, the Duncans had dreams of building a great life together. Twenty-year-old Jim and his Ronda, just, 18 were newlyweds living in Saint Petersburg, Florida.
RONDA DUNCAN: We had bought a house and we had a car. And people our age didn't have those things.
JIM DUNCAN: Originally I wanted to be a veterinarian, but I'm a little too squeamish, so I couldn't handle that part. I went to school at Tampa Tech, got an associates degree in computer science.
CASAREZ: And all of a sudden you find out you're going to have a baby.
RONDA DUNCAN: Yes, at 21. I was pretty shocked about that, you know. But I knew that I could be a mom. I knew I could.
CASAREZ: Kevin was born in 1991.
KEVIN DUNCAN, SON OF JIM DUNCAN: My first memory actually was me and my dad at the pound picking out our first dog.
RONDA DUNCAN: We were very happy and Jimmy loved Kevin, very much so.
CASAREZ: During that time was Jim working, or did he get to spend a lot of time with Kevin?
RONDA DUNCAN: He got to spend time with Kevin because he was unemployed at that time. He took care of Kevin while I went to work. He was very helpful.
CASAREZ: Two years later in February, 1993, Ronda gave birth to their second son, Kody.
JIM DUNCAN: And I was hoping for another boy because I wanted to have two sons like I had with my brother. I was real excited about Kody and it just worked out perfect.
CASAREZ: So then the nightmare began?
RONDA DUNCAN: My baby was crying all the time. I don't know why he's crying all the time.
CASAREZ: The horror began when the Duncans realized something was off with their second baby.
RONDA DUNCAN: I've already had a child and I know how to take care of a baby.
CASAREZ: But the crying didn't stop and Kody seemed to be in pain. One night Ronda got scared.
RONDA DUNCAN: I went to lay him down in his bed and when, you know, when you lay down a baby they do this with their arms like, you know, in instinct. And he just did that with one. And I felt that there was just something wrong there.
CASAREZ: Kody wasn't using the left side of his body. The doctor told Ronda to get him to the hospital. By now Jim was working and going to night school.
RONDA DUNCAN: So I called Jimmy and told him that the doctor said take him to the emergency room. He goes, okay, I'll meet you there.
CASAREZ: When Baby Kody was admitted here to the emergency room, authorities believed he was a victim of vicious abuse. According to court transcripts, Kody had fractures of his arm, both legs, multiple ribs, clavicle and skull.
RONDA DUNCAN: Some doctor comes in and starts screaming at both of us and saying that we hurt our child.
CASAREZ: The doctor delivered gut-wrenching news.
RONDA DUNCAN: He threw up these x-rays and said Kody had 13 broken bones and a skull fracture.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your baby has a baby-shaken syndrome. And one of you hurt him.
CASAREZ: Hospital officials called the police.
RONDA DUNCAN: They put me in one room and him in one room. And they read me my rights. And then of course, they were doing the same thing to Jimmy too.
CASAREZ: Then they called Child Protection Services.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is March, 1993.
CASAREZ: Those who had spent the most time with Kody came under immediate suspicion.
BONNELL: I babysat for them when they needed me to.
CASAREZ: Including Jim's mother Celeste Bonnell.
There were three people designated as suspects, who were they?
BONNELL: Me, my son, and Ronda.
JIM DUNCAN: I always thought I failed as a father to protect my son because I didn't know what happened to them.
RONDA DUNCAN: We were frantic. We were trying to figure out what was wrong, what had happened. Then they took Kody to foster care.
From the beginning they wanted us all to just be like vultures and go after each other. It turned extremely ugly, very, very ugly. Jimmy and I were in love. We weren't arguing, we weren't mad at each other, we weren't hateful, there wasn't anything like that. It just, one day it just changed. And they won.
CASAREZ: Next, lies, deception, and devastating consequences.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a hand in having an innocent man in prison.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My grandmother, I love her, but at the same time I hate her.
CASAREZ: In the spring of 1993, Jim and Ronda Duncan got the shock of a lifetime, their two-month-old son had 13 broken bones. Detectives concluded it was child abuse, but who would have done this to Kody and why? The investigation tore the family apart.
RONDA DUNCAN: I did separate myself from Jimmy.
JIM DUNCAN: They told her unless somebody gets blamed for this, then the kids are going to foster home.
CASAREZ: Both kids, Kevin and Kody were removed from their home while police searched for the offender.
You were a suspect too?
RONDA DUNCAN: Yes.
CASAREZ: Police had three suspects, Ronda, Jim and Jim's mother, Celeste, but they needed a break in the case.
And then a huge bombshell, what nobody knew at the time, one person had stepped forward to the police and it was a member of the family.
In this 1994 police video obtained by CNN, Doris Kibby, Ronda's own grandmother told police she knew who was responsible. She demonstrated using a doll.
DONNA KIBBY, RONDA DUNCAN'S GRANDMOTHER: He stood there awhile and he says he hates me, he don't like me, he hates me, just let Ronda come and get him. He'll shut up and let Ronda take him. He'll shut up.
CASAREZ: Doris claimed that while she was visiting the family she saw Jim hurting Kody.
KIBBY (ph): When I walked in he took the baby and did this with him. And I hollered at him and asked him what he was doing, he did it again.
CASAREZ: Police now had what they needed, an eyewitness and direct evidence that Jim Duncan was a child abuser. Two days after that interview, police arrested the young father and charged him with 13 counts of aggravated child abuse.
What went through your mind?
RONDA DUNCAN: I knew Jimmy didn't do that. I knew he didn't.
CASAREZ: Doris said she thought she was doing the right thing by opening up to police.
It must have been a very difficult time.
KIBBY: It was. It was terrible. It was really terrible.
CASAREZ: Terrible because it was all made up. Doris as it turned out was lying.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And (inaudible) you have Wild Turkey?
CASAREZ: Twenty years later Doris Kibby lives on the same Pennsylvania ranch where she gave her dramatic account to police.
CASAREZ: So you don't believe Kody was abused by Jim?
KIBBY: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. I was scared that they will -- I've seen them take Kody out of her arm at the hospital.
CASAREZ: So scared, Doris said, she made up the story about Jim in a moment of panic to protect her granddaughter Ronda and prevent Kody from being placed in foster care for good.
RONDA DUNCAN: There was a lot of lies. I was with my grandma, that every time that she came over to my house she had a broken foot, she had to sit on my coach.
KIBBY: I will swear on my grave and everything else Jim did not hurt him. He didn't. He didn't have a chance.
CASAREZ: What would you like to say to Jim?
KIBBY: I want to tell him I'm really, really sorry.
CASAREZ: The Duncans say the damage was already done.
Do you think Jimmy was charged because of that lie?
RONDA DUNCAN: I do, yes, of course.
CASAREZ: Ronda says when she realized what her grandmother had done, she went to prosecutors.
RONDA DUNCAN: I walked into her office and started telling her that this was not the truth. She said, I will give you three seconds to turn around and walk out this door.
CASAREZ: But Diane Bailey, the lead prosecutor, said nothing like that ever happened. She declined an on-camera interview but agreed to review defense documents which included a sworn statement by Doris Kibby. According to that statement as the trial approached, Doris tried to make amends herself telling the prosecutor she lied and wanted the truth to be known.
KIBBY: When we got in court I was going to tell them, you know, that Jim didn't hurt the baby and she'd looked at me and said -- because she had already told me, better not saying nothing because I'd go to jail.
CASAREZ: Go to jail for lying to police. But Bailey denied that accusation, stating in an email to CNN that personal attacks against her made by Ronda or Doris are completely false.
Since Doris recanted before the trial her account of Jim abusing Kody never made it into the courtroom, but she still became the state's star witness testifying that Jim had a temper.
Do you ever feel guilty at all?
KIBBY: Yes. I feel guilty about it because I know Jim didn't do it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you ready?
CASAREZ: Today, Kevin Duncan still cannot forgive his great- grandmother.
KEVIN DUNCAN: You have a hand in having an innocent man in prison. You destroyed my life, you destroyed my brother's life. I love her but at the same time I hate her.
CASAREZ: Ronda divorced Jim after his arrest, got custody of her boys, and left Florida.
RONDA DUNCAN: No, I didn't want to move to Pennsylvania but I had to do what I had to do.
KEVIN DUNCAN: I couldn't stop crying because I knew for some reason at eight years old I knew I was never going to see him. I thought I'd never see him again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It all pointed to him.
CASAREZ: The dramatic trial.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel like I'm a large part of why he's there.
CASAREZ: And later the new medical science that could turn this case upside down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a bad diagnosis. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CASAREZ: Did you break the bones of your little baby?
JIM DUNCAN: No, no, no.
CASAREZ: In March, 1996, 30-year-old Jim Duncan was on trial accused in a heartbreaking child abuse case.
JIM DUNCAN: I am innocent. I did not harm my son.
CASAREZ: But there's no denying that his two-month-old son Kody had 13 broken bones when he was admitted to the hospital.
How common was it to have an eight-week-old infant with so many fractures?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is a fairly rare event, even for someone that is working in the field.
CASAREZ: Florida pediatrician Mark Morris was the head of the Child Protection team. He examined Kody and testified for the prosecution.
MARK MORRIS, PHYSICIAN, HEAD OF THE CHILD PROTECTION TEAM: The conclusion was that this was definitely abuse, not just likely but definitely.
CASAREZ: Kody's injuries were in various stages of healing at eight weeks when he was brought to you. What does that tell you?
MORRIS: It tells us that this wasn't one single incident, that these injuries happened over a period of time.
CASAREZ: According to medical records though Kody had no bruises or internal tissue injuries.
Did you ever think about that Kody didn't have a bunch of black and blue marks all over him?
RONDA DUNCAN: That's why we didn't know that something was wrong with him. That's why I kept taking him to the doctor.
CASAREZ: Dr. Morris says no bruising doesn't mean no abuse.
MORRIS: It is not important in light of the type and number of fractures that he has.
CASAREZ: Yet there was no evidence that Jim Duncan physically abused Kody. Since Kody's great-grandmother had recanted her eyewitness account, prosecutors did not use it in court.
RONDA DUNCAN: He would never -- he wouldn't hurt any child.
CASAREZ: Ronda Duncan, Jim's ex-wife, was also a prosecution witness.
I remember on cross-examination one question the defense attorney did ask you, if you had ever seen Jim lay a hand on Kody?
RONDA DUNCAN: No. No. The only hand that he would lay on Kody is he was hugging and kissing his baby.
CASAREZ: Jim Duncan had no prior history of abusing either of his sons, but a separate case could have led to his conviction, a 1991 incident involving a neighbor's infant who became ill after Jim babysat her.
Doctors did first suspect child abuse when a CT scan showed a probable diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome the previous 12 to 18 hours. That timeframe included the child's parents who both lived in the home as well as Duncan.
The Child Protection Team who investigated it determined no one would be identified as an abuser. The allegations against Jim were deemed to be unfounded and the case was closed. But prosecutors were still able to use it against him in Kody's case.
CNN reached out to trial prosecutor Diane Bailey Morton who declined our request for an interview.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The prosecution really painted him as having a short fuse, having a temper and the evidence kind of supported that.
CASAREZ: This juror who did not want to be identified says what really swayed him was the description of Kody's brutal injuries.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The victim was so young.
CASAREZ: What was the evidence that really told you beyond a reasonable doubt that Jim Duncan had broken the bones of Kody?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The doctor's testimony was overwhelming. I was in the medical field, so I kind of knew how to read and see x-rays and it was obvious that this child's bones had been broken or fractured. The prosecution put on a much better case than the defense.
ROGER MILLS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I feel like I'm a large part of why he's there.
CASAREZ: Defense Attorney Roger Mills blames himself for the fate of Jim Duncan. He's never spoken on camera about the case.
MILLS: There were some witnesses that I kind of wished I could have called, that would have enabled maybe to have attested to Jim's character.
I couldn't present anything, medical, scientific testimonial or anything that this was anything other than abuse. Those fractures could have been caused by nothing other than abuse. I still feel like justice wasn't served.
CASAREZ: In fact Mills felt so bad about his part in the case, two years after the conviction he wrote a letter to the appellate attorney saying that he still loses sleep over the outcome and that he had failed Jim Duncan.
MILLS: I was his warrior and I lost.
CASAREZ: After a three-day trial, Jim Duncan was convicted of all 13 counts of child abuse.
BONNELL: As soon as I heard guilty, I passed out. They had to carry me out of the courtroom.
RONDA DUNCAN: I just couldn't believe it, and then to know that he was going to go away for a long time.
CASAREZ: Duncan was sentenced to 70 years in prison.
JIM DUNCAN: I was just shocked. I was numb. And what's left?
CASAREZ: Even some of the jurors who voted unanimously to convict him felt it was harsh.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sentencing we thought was a little over excessive. That would have been pretty much his entire life. Now you've got two boys without a dad.
KEVIN DUNCAN: People that have murdered served less time than my father already. My dad is a good man. He's a man that I want to be. He's a man that I look up to. Now I don't have him and it's hard.
CASAREZ: When we come back, the Duncan boys' crusade.
KEVIN DUNCAN (?): I want to help my dad get out more than anybody. I know he's an innocent man.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a collect call from an inmate at Florida Correctional Institution.
CASAREZ: And later...?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're numb. It's still sinking in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
CASAREZ: Private investigator Jerry Lyons is a man on a missions.
JERRY LYONS, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: You know, I think I wanted to become a cop when I was about 16-years-old and this is, it probably sounds like a cliche but I really wanted to help people.
CASAREZ: He is a former NYPD detective who believes James Duncan is innocent. Lyons met Jim at the Avon Prison in Central Florida while working on another case.
LYONS: He told me about working two jobs. He wasn't home that often. The baby was only eight-weeks-old at that time. You know, he told me he didn't do it but the baby had these fractures. CASAREZ: Jerry felt so strongly that Jim didn't do it he decided to
him on his dime, but he had to get his hands on Kody's x-rays from 1993. The State Attorney's Office in Pinellas County told him no.
LYONS: Listen, let me tell you something, Counselor, I said, I can have them and you're going to give them to me. I said this case is over, there's Kody's x-rays and he wants them. I guess the New Yorker in me came out.
CASAREZ: With Kody's medical release in hand, Lyons got those x-rays and took them to Dr. Marvin Miller, director of Medical Genetics at Dayton Children's Hospital and an expert in pediatric bone disease. He also has supported a controversial theory about broken bones and child abuse.
So you were in the room with Dr. Miller when he looked at them?
LYONS: He knew, he knew right away.
CASAREZ: Knew right away Jerry says that Kody had metabolic bone disease, that this new evidence showed he may have been born with a rare defect and not abused at all.
LYONS: I got teary like I'm getting now. I'm not supposed to. And of course this could be somebody who's been in jail for 20 years, can go free.
LISABETH FRYER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Jerry Lyons waited until he had a rock solid case of actual innocence before he got me involved.
CASAREZ: Florida defense attorney Lisabeth Fryer is working to get Jim's conviction overturned.
FRYER: I would not have taken the case if there wasn't actually newly discovered evidence that I thought stood a chance of winning. I just don't do it.
CASAREZ: She believes this new evidence will prove Kody's fractures were medical in nature, not criminal.
How do you define new evidence?
FRYER: Well, Florida describes new evidence as evidence that could not have been found at trial with due diligence, could not have been found. So we know we have new evidence because this science didn't exist at the time of the trial.
CASAREZ: More than a thousand miles away in Springfield Illinois, radiologist Dr. David Ayoub researches metabolic bone disease and child abuse. He is also one of the main authors of a 2014 study Fryer is using in her argument before the court. In a peer-reviewed paper from the respected Radiology Journal, AJR, Ayoub and his colleagues looked at previous studies of infant fractures determined to be from abuse. Their analysis found those fractures very likely came from bone disease.
All right, doctor, what are we looking at here?
DAVID AYOUB, RADIOLOGIST: Well, I think this is the, anatomically this is just below the knee joint in the right shin bone.
CASAREZ: Can you say to a degree of medical certainty that Kody Duncan had metabolic bone disease?
AYOUB: Absolutely, no question he had metabolic bone disease.
CASAREZ: Ayoub studied the location and formation of the fractures and believes Kody had infantile rickets, a disease of early life in which bones do not mineralize properly. Bone growth is a two-step process. Ayoub says, first, a protein matrix is laid down, then calcium is added, causing the bone to form.
AYOUB: That's the exact description of fractures in children with compromised bone strength. Many of their bones are weak. They're not fragile for a day or two. They're fragile over a period of time, so they have many opportunities to break bones.
CASAREZ: He says babies with the disease have bones so fragile that even regular handling can cause breakage and those fractures he says are often misdiagnosed as abuse. In Kody's case, medical records show no other typical signs of abuse, no bruises, no internal tissue injuries.
AYOUB: In the absence of any evidence of external injury or internal injury such as the chest, the presence of a healthy family, healthy sibling, this is metabolic bone disease until proven otherwise. This is not child abuse until proven otherwise.
CASAREZ: Fryer is banking on that expertise.
What do you want the court to do?
FRYER: Hear the testimony of the doctors, learn about the new diagnosis and the new science, grant Mr. Duncan a new trial. This is a case of a wrongfully convicted man. There's no victim, there's no crime.
CASAREZ: Proving that may be an uphill battle. Coming up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The findings that I see here are completely consistent with child abuse.
CASAREZ: And Kody Duncan today. Do you ever say to yourself, what if he did hurt me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): This is CNN, the most trusted name in news.
KODY DUNCAN: I've met a lot of friends doing college tennis, it just came naturally to me.
CASAREZ: Tennis was just one of the sports Kody Duncan played growing up.
DUNCAN: I play football, basketball, baseball, soccer, I ran cross country, I wrestled.
CASAREZ: He's 24 years old and graduated from college with a degree in sports medicine. You'd never know he was the baby in the center of a traumatic child abuse case.
DUNCAN: From what they've told me about the 13 fractures, I've never had a broken bone in my life and I've never had any physical problems or mental problems while I was growing up.
CASAREZ: Did your father abuse you when you were a little baby?
DUNCAN: No, I don't believe so.
CASAREZ: And you never had a doubt.
DUNCAN: I never once had a doubt, I don't believe it.
CASAREZ: Neither does Lisabeth Fryer, his father's new defense attorney.
FRYER: It turns out that there was no abuse in this case and the fractures that this tiny child had were caused by a metabolic bone disorder. So based on that finding, we are moving forward to try to get Jim a new trial.
AYOUB: So this whole growth plate shifted almost 50 percent.
CASAREZ: Dr. David Ayoub is one of the radiologists who reanalyzed Kody's x-rays and came up with that finding.
AYOUB: Reading these descriptions, this is a very, very typical presentation for rickets. Particularly the tibial bucket handles are pathognomonic for healing rickets. This is what we see and there is a very limited differential diagnosis. Abuse isn't one of them.
PETER STROUSE, RADIOLOGIST : The findings that I see here are completely consistent with child abuse.
CASAREZ: Dr. Peter Strouse is on the other side. He is the head radiologist at Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the president of the Society for Pediatric Radiology. Strouse believes in the medical community's gold standard, that is, infant fractures almost always equal abuse, including in Kody's case.
Is this a case of metabolic bone disease?
STROUSE: No. Looking at the images, there are no findings suggestive of underlying metabolic bone disease or specifically, rickets. There are characteristic changes that we see at the ends of the long bones in the arms and legs when a child has rickets and those changes are not present in this case.
CASAREZ: There were no bruises, no outward marks at all and no internal injuries.
STROUSE: It's very common with fractures in child abuse not to see overlying bruises.
CASAREZ: Lucky to be alive?
STROUSE: He was lucky to be taken out of the environment of abuse, he's lucky to be alive, lucky not to have permanent physical handicap.
CASAREZ: Today, more and more courts are looking at child abuse cases and allowing experts like Dr. Ayoub to testify. It's caused a sharp divide in the medical community.
Do you believe many people have been wrongly convicted in these cases?
AYOUB: I think you're really talking about multiples of tens of thousands of cases since the early 1980s, but we're talking about a very tiny minority of those that are working in the profession out there that say that.
CASAREZ: Strouse feels strongly that doctors like Ayoub are overstepping their bounds.
STROUSE: It's concerning in that what I think they're referring to is not new science. It's basically misinformation. This child has fractures and nothing but fractures without evidence of an underlying condition.
CASAREZ: So in your opinion, this would not be worthy of a new trial to present Dr. Ayoub's theory?
STROUSE: Certainly not.
CASAREZ: What will it take for the thinking in this country to turn around?
AYOUB: You know, maybe an act of God because it seems that we are long ways away.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, this is a collect call from.
JIM DUNCAN: James.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An inmate at...
CASAREZ: Then on April 21st, the Duncan family got what felt to them an act of God.
BONNELL: We got good news. We're getting an evidentiary hearing.
JIM DUNCAN: Wow.
BONNELL: My knees buckled and everything, I just couldn't believe it.
CASAREZ: The second district Court of Appeal granted the defense request for a hearing to present the new evidence to the court asking that Duncan's conviction be overturned.
BONNELL: Finally, it's working our way.
CASAREZ: Jim Duncan was happy, yet numb.
BONNELL: Didn't think it was going to happen, huh?
JIM DUNCAN: Well, I was hoping it would, but I had no way. We've been hoping for a long time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have one minute left.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So give Kody a call because I know he wants to talk to you.
JIM DUNCAN: All right, love you.
BONNELL: Love you too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Love you, dad.
CASAREZ: So I hear from your mother that you're the spitting image of him when he was your age.
KODY DUNCAN: Yeah, yeah, and I believe it too because I've seen pictures.
CASAREZ: Right now, pictures are all Kody has. His father has been incarcerated almost his entire life.
Kody, if you could speak to your father right now, what would you want to say to him right now?
KODY DUNCAN: I'd tell him that I love him and that I believe he is an innocent man. If he was out here right now, I'd never let him go. I'd be sleeping right beside his bed every night and protect him with everything I got. Nobody would take him away from me again.
CASAREZ: Back at the prison, freedom still seems like a far off dream for Jim. He's cautiously optimistic the new hearing will lead to his freedom. In the meantime, his sons keep him moving forward.
JIM DUNCAN: I'm humbled that they just have such a deep love and respect for me and that they want to be with me and they want me to be with them.