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Friday, July 22, 2016

Ind. Decisions - Purvi Patel feticide conviction vacated

In Purvi Patel v. State of Indiana, a 42-page opinion, Judge Crone writes:

Thirty-two-year-old Purvi Patel managed her father’s restaurant in Mishawaka. A relationship with a restaurant employee resulted in her pregnancy. In June 2013, she purchased mifepristone and misoprostol online from a Hong Kong pharmacy and used those drugs to terminate the pregnancy at home. On the evening of July 13, she delivered a live baby of approximately twenty-five to thirty weeks gestation who died shortly after birth. She drove to the restaurant, put the baby in a nearby dumpster, and drove herself to the emergency room.

The State charged Patel with class A felony neglect of a dependent, alleging that she failed to provide any medical care to her baby immediately after its birth, which resulted in its death. The State also charged Patel with class B felony feticide, alleging that she knowingly terminated her pregnancy with the intention other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus. A jury found her guilty as charged. The trial court sentenced Patel to thirty years of imprisonment for neglect of a dependent, with twenty years executed and ten years suspended, and a concurrent executed term of six years for feticide.

On appeal, Patel argues that her neglect of a dependent conviction should be overturned because it is not supported by sufficient evidence. She also argues that her feticide conviction should be overturned because the feticide statute is either inapplicable or unconstitutional as applied to her.

As for the neglect conviction, we hold that the State presented sufficient evidence for a jury to find that Patel was subjectively aware that the baby was born alive and that she knowingly endangered the baby by failing to provide medical care, but that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the baby would not have died but for Patel’s failure to provide medical care. Therefore, we vacate Patel’s class A felony conviction and remand to the trial court with instructions to enter judgment of conviction for class D felony neglect of a dependent and resentence her accordingly.

As for the feticide conviction, we hold that the legislature did not intend for the feticide statute to apply to illegal abortions or to be used to prosecute women for their own abortions. Therefore, we vacate Patel’s feticide conviction. * * *

[Section 2.3 – "The legislature did not intend for the feticide statute to apply to women who have abortions" - pp. 39-42]

Conclusion. We vacate Patel’s convictions for class A felony neglect of a dependent and feticide. We remand to the trial court with instructions to enter judgment of conviction for class D felony neglect of a dependent and resentence Patel accordingly.

ILB: The ILB has had many posts involving or mentioning the Purvi Patel case - access the list here.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 22, 2016 11:30 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions