Woman Who Ate Rat Poison While Pregnant Charged With Murder - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Woman Who Ate Rat Poison While Pregnant Charged With Murder

Posted: Updated:

NBCNEWS.COM - Prosecutors who charged a mother with murdering her infant because she ate rat poison while pregnant have asked the Indiana judge trying the case to take steps that critics say could stifle any sympathy jurors might have for the woman.

Bei Bei Shuai's story has generated a wave of support from advocates who fear that her case could establish an unequal system that would effectively make pregnant women beholden to stricter rules than others under Indiana law. 

Shuai, a 36-year-old Chinese immigrant from Shanghai, was eight months pregnant and heartbroken after a breakup when she ate rat poison in December 2010. She was hospitalized and doctors detected little wrong with the fetus' health for the first few days. Shuai gave birth to Angel Shuai on Dec. 31. Three days later, the baby died from bleeding in the brain. Medical staff reported her to the police; her lawyers said it was a suicide attempt.

"In some cases, merely asking a question may plant a question in a juror's mind," she said. 

Shuai's attorney, Linda Pence, said she didn't know how she could adhere to such a restriction. "You can't ask a court or ask a lawyer to word their questions to avoid sympathy. That's something the jury determines, not the lawyers." 

Boyne said witnesses' religious beliefs could be relevant if they motivated doctors and nurses to report Shuai to police. 

As for the spectators, Boyne said the U.S. Constitution and legal precedent protect their free speech rights, provided they're not disruptive. 

"Since it is the defendant's right to a fair trial that we are concerned with, I don't understand why the state would be prejudiced by this speech," she said in an email. 

A spokeswoman for Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry 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," said Curry's spokeswoman, Peg McLeish. 

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. 

A group that is helping to defend Shuai said the issue is one of equality. 

"I think the motion is an admission by the prosecutor that the case is recognized by a growing number of people in Indiana who recognize he is setting up a separate and unequal system of treatment that is going to affect all pregnant women, not just Bei Bei Shuai," said Lynn Paltrow, executive director of the New York-based National Advocates for Pregnant Women. 

McLeish declined to discuss the motivation for the motion. 

"The prosecution is simply requesting that the Rules of Evidence be adhered to throughout the proceedings and to clarify those standards and expectations at the outset before any concerns arise. Ultimately, the state wants this and any case to be tried on its merits," she said in a statement. 

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.

  • National NewsMore>>

  • Battle rages in Gaza City

    Battle rages in Gaza City

    Sunday, July 20 2014 2:12 PM EDT2014-07-20 18:12:41 GMT
    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - It's the deadliest day yet of Israel's 3-day-old ground offensive in Gaza. Palestinian health officials say at least 65 people were killed as Israeli troops backed by tanks and warplanes battled Hamas militants in a crowded neighborhood of Gaza City.Thousands have fled the city and dozens of homes were damaged or destroyed. Palestinian health officials put the number of displaced at 35,000.More >>
    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - It's the deadliest day yet of Israel's 3-day-old ground offensive in Gaza. Palestinian health officials say at least 65 people were killed as Israeli troops backed by tanks and warplanes battled Hamas militants in a crowded neighborhood of Gaza City.Thousands have fled the city and dozens of homes were damaged or destroyed. Palestinian health officials put the number of displaced at 35,000.More >>
  • Feds: Man said he'd blow up London-to-LA plane

    Feds: Man said he'd blow up London-to-LA plane

    Thursday, July 17 2014 12:52 AM EDT2014-07-17 04:52:07 GMT
    LOS ANGELES (AP) - A federal criminal complaint says a passenger on a flight this week from London to Los Angeles threatened to kill flight attendants and blow up the plane.The FBI says 20-year-old Kevin Lee Mosele of Kihei, Hawaii, was charged Tuesday with interfering with a flight crew. He could get 20 years in federal prison if convicted.More >>
    LOS ANGELES (AP) - A federal criminal complaint says a passenger on a flight this week from London to Los Angeles threatened to kill flight attendants and blow up the plane.The FBI says 20-year-old Kevin Lee Mosele of Kihei, Hawaii, was charged Tuesday with interfering with a flight crew. He could get 20 years in federal prison if convicted.More >>
  • Las Vegas doctor will help girl attacked by pit bull

    Las Vegas doctor will help girl attacked by pit bull

    Monday, June 23 2014 8:58 PM EDT2014-06-24 00:58:54 GMT
    JACKSON, Miss. - A Las Vegas doctor deeply touched by the story of the little girl who was asked to leave KFC because of the scars on her face, has decided to pay it forward. Victoria Wilcher was the victim of a pit bull attack that left her with multiple scars all over her face and only one eye.More >>
    JACKSON, Miss. - A Las Vegas doctor deeply touched by the story of the little girl who was asked to leave KFC because of the scars on her face, has decided to pay it forward. Victoria Wilcher was the victim of a pit bull attack that left her with multiple scars all over her face and only one eye.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KHQ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.