Defense seeks dismissal of Ind. fetal murder case

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 8, 2013 at 4:04 pm •  Published: March 8, 2013
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Last week, prosecutors ask the judge to restrict Shuai's attorneys from questioning witnesses in ways that might elicit sympathy for her. A friend previously testified that Shuai wept as her three-day-old daughter died in her arms after she was removed from life support.

Prosecutors also asked the judge to bar courtroom spectators from wearing buttons expressing opinions about Shuai and to bar defense attorneys from questioning witnesses about their religious beliefs. Prosecutors say such motions are standard.

Shawn Boyne, a professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis and an expert on trial procedure, said that while the type of motion is "relatively routine," its scope is unusual.

Boyne said she understood why prosecutors want to block questions that could elicit sympathy for Shuai. "In some cases, merely asking a question may plant a question in a juror's mind," she said.

Witnesses' religious beliefs could be relevant if they motivated doctors and nurses to report Shuai to police, Boyne said. She also said the U.S. Constitution and legal precedent protect spectators' free speech rights, provided they're not disruptive.

McLeish, the prosecutor's office spokeswoman, said the motion was intended to make sure Shuai is tried based on the evidence.

"We don't want to try this case in the media. We feel the case is best handled in the courtroom on its merits," McLeish said.

A petition on change.org urging the state to drop the charges against Shuai has nearly 11,000 signatures.

"This case aims to set a precedent that reduces pregnant women to walking wombs under total state control and surveillance at all times, subject to getting thrown in jail if for whatever reason we can't or don't obey," said Brooke M. Beloso, an assistant professor in gender studies at Butler University in Indianapolis who started the petition.

As concerns the evidence against Shuai, Carlisle ruled in January that the doctor who performed the autopsy on Angel can't testify that rat poison was the cause of her death because she didn't consider other possibilities, including a drug Shuai received in the hospital. Curry hasn't said whether he'll seek another medical opinion.

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