Judge allows feticide charge against N. Ind. woman

(WTHI Photo, file)
(WTHI Photo, file)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — A northern Indiana judge allowed a feticide charge to stand Tuesday against a woman who is also charged with neglect in the death of a newborn whose body was found in a restaurant trash bin.

St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Hurley ruled the charge can stand against 33-year-old Purvi Patel of Granger.

The infant’s body was found outside a Mishawaka restaurant in July 2013 after Patel went to a hospital, police have said. Court documents say Patel told doctors the baby was stillborn, but a forensic pathologist ruled the infant was born alive and took a breath. Documents also allege Patel took drugs ordered from Hong Kong to try to abort the pregnancy.

Patel has pleaded not guilty to the neglect charge.

Defense attorney Jeff Sanford had asked Hurley to strike the feticide charge that prosecutors added last week, saying he didn’t have time to prepare a defense before Patel’s scheduled Sept. 29 trial.

“They are different medical issues,” Sanford said.

However, Hurley is allowing Sanford more time to prepare his defense, and the trial date likely will be vacated during a hearing Friday, the South Bend Tribune reported.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Mark Roule said the state has made it clear since October it intended to file a feticide charge if the case went to trial. He said the two charges stemmed from the same set of facts and spurred no new discovery specifically related to feticide.

Indiana law defines feticide as knowingly or intentionally terminating a human pregnancy with an intention other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus.

Feticide carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Neglect carries a maximum sentence of 50 years.

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