The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

March 3, 2013

Mom’s lawyers want to bar baby’s autopsy photos from being used in trial

INDIANAPOLIS — Lawyers for a Chinese immigrant whose premature baby died after she tried to kill herself by eating rat poison are asking an Indianapolis judge to bar autopsy photographs from her murder trial, saying the pictures are overly gory and likely to prejudice jurors.

Bei Bei Shuai’s attorneys said in documents filed Friday in Marion County Court that a medical examiner from Delaware who reviewed the photographs called them “appallingly unprofessional.”

“Photos of dead infants are by nature inflammatory and prejudicial,” defense attorneys wrote in one of several motions filed.

A spokeswoman for Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry had no comment Saturday.

Shuai was hospitalized after she attempted suicide by eating rat poison on Dec. 23, 2010, when she was eight months pregnant. Doctors delivered her daughter, Angel Shuai, on Dec. 31 and the infant died three days later.

Prosecutors arrested Bei Bei Shuai on charges of murder and feticide in March 2011, saying a note she left to her former boyfriend proved that Shuai intended to kill her baby when she ate the rat poison.

But Judge Sheila Carlisle ruled in January that the doctor who determined the poison caused the baby’s death hadn’t considered other possible causes, including a drug administered to Shuai while she was in the hospital. That effectively deprived prosecutors of the cause of death on which their case rested.

Prosecutors said earlier this week they wouldn’t appeal Carlisle’s ruling, and their next step was unclear.

Shuai’s lawyers said in their motion to bar the autopsy photographs that the pictures didn’t prove anything because they didn’t show any evidence of effects from the poison. Instead, they unnecessarily depicted the infant’s body in various “gruesome” stages of dissection, the documents said.

Delaware Chief State Medical Examiner Richard Callery advised Shuai’s attorneys that some of the photographs were unprofessional and inflammatory, the documents said.

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