By Dave Andrusko
St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Hurley this morning sentenced Purvi Patel to 20 years in prison for throwing her newborn son into a dumpster following a chemically-induced abortion.
In February, following a trial that took place over six days and which 20 witnesses offered testimony, Patel was convicted of feticide and child neglect. Prosecutors said she took drugs to induce an abortion and failed to get medical help for the baby when he was born alive.
“You, Ms. Patel, are an educated woman of considerable means. If you wished to terminate your pregnancy safely and legally, you could have done so,” said Judge Elizabeth Hurley said. “You planned a course of action and took matters into your own hands.”
According to the South Bend Tribune, “Hurley sentenced Patel to a 30-year sentence for the neglect conviction, with 20 to be served in prison and 10 suspended. On the feticide count, Hurley handed down a six-year prison sentence that will overlap with the 20-year term.”
Jeff Sanford, Patel’s lawyer “asked for the entire sentence to be suspended and served outside of prison, saying prosecutors never proved she illegally took drugs from China to terminate her pregnancy.”
St. Joseph County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Mark Roule said Patel could have sought help for her baby, “but instead betrayed a victim who was wholly dependent on her,” according to the Tribune’s Christian Sheckler.
“His only chance at survival was his mother,” Roule said. “In this case, the mother did nothing, left him on the floor to die and threw him in the trash.”
Judge Hurley said she looked favorably at the remorse Patel showed in a letter to the court and Patel’s lack of criminal history.
But Hurley said she was troubled by Patel’s failure to get help, and that she treated the baby “literally as a piece of trash.”
Police found the baby July 14, 2013, in a dumpster behind a Moe’s Southwest Grill restaurant owned by Patel’s family in Mishawaka, Indiana.
The prosecution said Patel, 33, took abortifacients purchased online from overseas in July 2013 and then deposited the body of her 25-30 week-old baby into a dumpster in back of Moe’s Southwest Grill, the family restaurant.
The defense argued, contrary to testimony from prosecution witnesses, that Patel’s baby boy was not viable and was already dead when born; that there was no physical evidence she’d actually taken the abortifacients; and that Patel tried to revive the baby, attributing her failure to call 911 to shock.
But in summarizing and quoting from the prosecution’s closing argument. WSBT’s Kelli Stopczynski wrote
The state told jurors Patel’s intent was to give herself an illegal abortion, and that’s what prosecutors say she did.
“This whole production is about a little boy…” said Deputy Prosecutor Mark Roule. “He wasn’t expected, he wasn’t wanted. He lived a brief and horrible life. What happened to him was very, very wrong.”
Roule reminded jurors about details they’ve already heard — that the baby was born on the bathroom floor at Patel’s home. She wrapped him in plastic bags and put him in a dumpster behind Moe’s Southwest Grill in Mishawaka – a restaurant her family owns.
Then, when her pain and bleeding wouldn’t stop, Patel went to the emergency room.
“She continued to lie to doctors and nurses…she tried to keep secret the fact that she’d been responsible for another life and done nothing,” Roule said.
Then, six months of text messages between Purvi Patel and her best friend about her irregular period, a positive pregnancy test in June and the abortion pills she ordered online and took, according to those texts.
According to WNDU
Patel’s attitude was perhaps captured in a text to a friend that read, “Just lost the baby. I’m going to clean up my bathroom floor and then go to Moe’s.”