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Ruling may spell end to fetal murder case

– An Indiana prosecutor acknowledged Friday that he may drop a murder charge against a Chinese immigrant who ate rat poison while she was pregnant, now that a judge has ruled that a doctor’s claim that the toxin killed her newborn baby can’t be used at trial.

Prosecutors have argued that Shanghai native Bei Bei Shuai killed her child by eating rat poison in December 2010, when she was eight months pregnant.

But Marion County Judge Sheila Carlisle ruled last week that Dr. Jolene Clouse, who performed the autopsy on newborn Angel Shuai, didn’t consider other possible causes for the brain bleeding that caused the baby’s death, including a drug that Shuai received while in the hospital.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said in a statement Friday that prosecutors could also request a pretrial appeal of the judge’s ruling, or ask for a second pathologist to review the cause of death, the statement said.

Shuai was eight months pregnant when she ate rat poison on Dec. 23, 2010, after her boyfriend broke up with her. She was hospitalized and gave birth to Angel on Dec. 31. The baby died three days later.

The case in Indiana has drawn attention from reproductive rights advocates who claim it could set a precedent by which pregnant women could be prosecuted for smoking or other behavior that authorities deem dangerous to their unborn child.