INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A judge must grant bond to an Indianapolis woman accused of causing the death of her premature baby by ingesting rat poison while she was pregnant, the Indiana Court of Appeals said Wednesday.
A lower court had denied bond for Chinese immigrant Bei Bei Shuai, but the appeals court ruled that her defense attorneys presented sufficient evidence to rebut the murder and feticide charges. The court ordered Marion Superior Court Judge Sheila Carlisle to set bond.
Carlisle ruled in June that Shuai, 34, should not be allowed out of jail because there was a strong presumption of her guilt. Bond is extremely rare in murder cases.
The appeals court also rejected Shuai's argument that her charges should be dismissed. The court ruled that Shuai had not proven that common-law immunity exists for pregnant women who harm their own fetuses.
Judge Patricia A. Riley dissented, saying she didn't think legislators ever intended to use the feticide statute to criminalize pregnant women's prenatal conduct.
Shuai's attorney, Linda Pence, has said Shuai ate rat poison because she intended to kill herself, not her baby. Prosecutors argued she wanted the baby to die.
Pence didn't immediately return a phone message seeking comment on Wednesday's ruling. Attorney General Greg Zoeller issued a statement saying he respected the court's decision.
Shuai ate rat poison on Dec. 23, 2010, after her boyfriend broke up with her. She was 33 weeks pregnant. Her attorneys said it was a suicide attempt and that Shuai was suffering from depression.
Shuai was hospitalized, and doctors tried to treat her for the poison. Court records show doctors told Shuai that they detected little problem with the fetus until days later, when the premature baby girl was delivered by cesarean section Dec. 31.
The child, Angel Shuai, died three days later from bleeding in the brain after she was removed from life support. Bei Bei Shuai was charged in March and has been jailed ever since.
Dozens of health care groups and other groups had filed friend-of-the-court briefs asking the appeals court to allow Shuai's release. They argued that the case could mean pregnant women who smoke or drink could also face criminal charges if their fetus is harmed.