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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ind. Courts - Two stories today about problems for prosecutors

"Prosecutor says he may have to drop charge against mother accused of killing newborn" is the most recent story by Indianapolis Star reporter Carrie Ritchie on the Bei Bei Shuai case. See also this Jan. 22nd story, quoted in this Jan. 23 ILB entry. From today's long story:

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry admitted Friday that his office has a big problem with one of its most controversial cases.

Curry charged Bei Bei Shuai, 36, Indianapolis, with murder and attempted feticide in 2011 when her baby daughter, Angel, died a few days after being born. Prosecutors alleged that rat poison Shuai ate during a suicide attempt caused bleeding in Angel’s brain, which eventually killed her.

But now, they can’t prove it.

A week ago, a Marion County judge said she won’t allow a pathologist to tell a jury that the rat poison killed the baby. The process the pathologist used to make that conclusion “is not reliable,” the judge ruled, because she didn’t eliminate other potential causes of death and didn’t provide enough information about how she determined rat poison was the cause.

“With the existing combination of witnesses, without any proof of cause of death,” Curry said Friday, “we would not be able to go forward on the murder charge.”

Even if prosecutors drop the murder charge, they plan to continue pursuing the attempted feticide charge, which Curry said doesn’t require them to show that the rat poison killed Angel. * * *

Curry said he’ll continue to find ways to make the case work, which could draw out the length and the cost of the case. Curry’s office says it does not know how much the case will end up costing taxpayers. * * *

Shuai’s trial is set for April 22.

"Charges dismissed in Facebook photo saga" is the headline to this story in today's Lafayette Journal Courier, reported by Sophia Voravong. I admit I find it confusing. Here is a sample:
But now the seemingly strong evidence is gone — forcing the Tippecanoe County prosecutor’s office on Friday to drop charges of child exploitation, a Class C felony, and possession of child pornography, a Class D felony, against the mother, 50-year-old Lynda A. Rusk, Prosecutor Pat Harrington said.

“In the past few weeks, our office has received additional digital records from the multiple carriers involved in this case. Analysis of these records reflect the critical digital evidence, which was previously requested by the state, no longer exists,” the prosecutor’s office said in a written statement provided to the Journal & Courier.

“Without the before-mentioned evidence, the state is unable to prove the location of the electronic device that was the source of the image. Therefore, the state is unable to prove jurisdiction in Tippecanoe County.”

Harrington declined to comment further on the “multiple carriers,” or companies from which prosecutors subpoenaed evidence, or why the companies purged the information.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 26, 2013 06:41 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts