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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ind. Courts - More on "Court to set bond for Indianapolis woman in baby's death"

A brief AP story last Wed., May 16th reported that a "bond hearing for 35-year-old Bei Bei Shuai" was set for last Friday.

Charles Wilson of the AP reported on Friday. The long story begins:

An Indiana judge set bail Friday for a Chinese immigrant who has spent more than a year in jail on charges that she murdered her 33-week-old fetus by eating rat poison, in a closely watched case that has potentially broad implications for women's rights.

The $50,000 bond Judge Sheila Carlisle set for Bei Bei Shuai is unusual, as defendants in Indiana murder cases are rarely given the chance. Carlisle denied Shuai's bond request last June, but a state appeals court agreed with Shuai's attorneys that there was enough evidence to cast doubt on the murder and feticide charges she faces.

The soft-spoken Shuai, wearing an orange jumpsuit and occasionally dabbing at her wet eyes with a tissue, assured the judge that she would not flee to China to avoid prison. "I want to fight this case," she said on the witness stand.

"I love this country," said the 35-year-old Shanghai native, who said she came to the U.S. in 2000. "I've become a mature woman here instead of a little girl."

Even so, Carlisle ordered Shuai to surrender her passport and submit to GPS tracking after she was released. She also was told not to leave the state without the court's permission. Her attorney, Linda Pence, said Shuai would stay with friends and work in their restaurant once she got out of jail.

Shuai has burned through her savings fighting the charges, and Pence said a fund has been set up where supporters can donate to help Shuai post bond and pay her legal bills. She said women's groups, church groups, students and others have already offered support, and a website has been set up to accept donations toward Shuai's release and defense.

"There has been an outpouring of support for Miss Shuai not only from throughout this state but throughout this country and internationally," Pence told reporters after the two-hour hearing in Marion County Superior Court.

Even if she's released, Shuai faces an immigration detainer from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, agency spokeswoman Gail Montenegro confirmed Friday. Attorney David Cook told the court that meant Shuai would have to be interviewed by ICE, which would then determine whether she should be held, released on bond, or ultimately deported.

NPR's Health Blog had this long story by Julie Rovner, posted late Friday afternoon. Some quotes:
At issue are laws — now in force at both the federal level and in at least 36 states — that make it a crime to cause death or injury to a fetus. The idea driving passage of these measures was to recognize a second victim in crimes against a pregnant woman. In fact, the federal law is technically known as "Laci and Connor's law," in recognition of the murder of the pregnant Laci Peterson, a much-publicized crime in California in 2002.

"These laws were passed by the legislature to protect women from third-party violence, not to be used against women themselves," Emma Ketteringham, one of Shuai's lawyers, said, in a media briefing.

But the Indiana Court of Appeals didn't agree. In a 2-1 decision in February, the court, said Ketteringham, "made it quite clear that pregnant women are no different than third parties when it comes to their pregnancies."

Then last week, the Indiana Supreme Court refused to consider the case, letting the Appeals Court ruling stand. The Supreme Court, however, did order the bond hearing, which resulted in today's ruling.

Here is a long list of earlier entries about the case.

Here is a link
leading to the 31-page, 2-1 COA opinion in Bei Bei Shuai v. State.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 20, 2012 07:42 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts