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Sunday, January 06, 2013

Ind. Courts - "Indy woman's suicide attempt, baby's death spark national cause"

Providing useful additions to this very long list of ILB entries on the Bei Bei Shuai case, Carrie Richie of the Indianapolis Star has written a lengthy (2 full interior pages), front-page feature recapping the entire case, plus a supplemental story on Ms. Shaui. A sample from the main story:

Now, two years after Angel’s death, the case of Bei Bei Shuai continues to raise provocative legal and moral questions.

For one, there is debate over whether Shuai’s actions were criminal, in part because there are issues of intent — hers and the law’s — but also because it’s not certain Angel’s death resulted from the rat poison.

But more broadly, the decision by Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry to charge Shuai has thrust the case into the center of one of the most highly charged debates of our time — the rights of women vs. the rights of the unborn children they carry. * * *

Pence has tried to get the charges dropped, arguing that Shuai didn’t intend to kill her baby — she meant to kill herself — so the murder charge is inappropriate. And, she said, the attempted feticide charge is meant for people who attack pregnant women, causing the loss of their babies. It wasn’t supposed to be used against mothers who might do something that hurts their babies while they’re in the womb.

[Defense attorney Linda] Pence cited a case in which the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that a woman couldn’t be charged with neglect for ingesting cocaine while she was pregnant.

But Curry, a Democrat, said his hands were tied because he thinks Shuai’s actions fit the definitions of murder and feticide as the laws are written.

According to Indiana law, it is murder to “knowingly or intentionally kill a fetus that has attained viability.” And, “a person who knowingly or intentionally terminates a human pregnancy with an intention other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus commits feticide, a class B felony.” * * *

The Indiana Court of Appeals allowed Shuai to bond out of jail — a rarity in murder cases — because Pence raised doubt about whether the rat poison caused Angel’s death.

The chemical in the rat poison Shuai ate does not cross into the placenta easily because of its molecular structure, according to research cited in court documents. And in the only similar documented case Pence could find, both the mother and the baby lived, Pence said.

Pence also cited other potential causes of death, including the indomethacin that was given to Shuai to prevent her from having contractions. The drug can cause hemorrhages in babies.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 6, 2013 03:02 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts