Judges hear appeal of woman sentenced for aborting her 25-30 week old baby and then ignoring him after he was born alive

By Dave Andrusko

Purvi Patel

Purvi Patel

A three-judge panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals is hearing arguments today in the case of Purvi Patel.

Last year St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Hurley sentenced Patel to 20 years for throwing her newborn son into a dumpster following a chemically-induced abortion. The baby was estimated to be 25 to 30-weeks old, which did not make its way into early coverage of the hearing.

Attorneys for the 35-year-old Patel told Chief Judge Nancy H. Vaidik, Judge L. Mark Bailey and Judge Terry A. Crone to throw out the conviction.

In February 2015, 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 Hurley said. “You planned a course of action and took matters into your own hands.”

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 South Bend 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.”

According to an Associated Press story carried by the South Bend Tribune,

Patel’s attorneys contend her convictions are not supported by the evidence and the laws prosecutors used don’t apply to her alleged actions in the child’s premature delivery.

In fact Patel’s role in her child’s “premature delivery” was supported by abundant evidence.

According to stories posted when Patel first filed her appeal, her attorneys argued that there “was no proof Patel took any drugs to end her pregnancy.” Now that is “conceded” by both sides. (There was a boatload of evidence, including text messages.)

As WSBT’s Kelli Stopczynski reported last year,

According to text messages, the pills arrived at Moe’s Southwest Grill in Mishawaka — a restaurant Patel’s family owns — in early July. But Patel waited to take those pills until July 10, continuing to provide a detailed account of her situation to her friend, [Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Aimee] Herring told the jury.

“BTW, these pills taste like sh**. If these pills don’t work”¦I’m gonna be mad,” the text messages allegedly said.

Then on July 13, Patel text messaged her friend, “Just lost the baby. I’m gonna clean up the bathroom and then go to Moe’s.”

In addition, in the Associated Press story posted over the weekend,

Patel’s appeal also contends she should not have been convicted of neglect, arguing prosecutors failed to prove she knew she had delivered a live baby or that she could have done anything to save its life. It argues that summoning medical help would have been “futile,” citing a forensic pathologist’s testimony that the infant likely would have died within about a minute.

But, the AP reported,

In its brief, the state argues that prosecutors were “not required to prove that an attempt to obtain medical care would have saved the baby’s life, only that Defendant placed her baby in appreciable danger by not obtaining medical care for him.”

Covering the second day of the trial last year, Stopczynski tweeted

*Jurors saw pictures of baby outside the dumpster where police found it. Purvi Patel appeared to cry

*Baby was lying on its side, where a doc placed it after it was found. Had full head of hair, arms, legs, ears and nose. Jurors appeared stoic

*Defense attny tried to get pictures removed from evidence before trial, arguing they weren’t necessary and would evoke emotion.

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