Woman Accused Of Abandoning Fetus In Dumpster — Case May Pit Defendant’s Religious Beliefs Against Science And Law

Purvi Patel, the Granger, Indiana woman accused of disposing of her fetus in a dumpster behind a restaurant owned by her family, has begun the process of a trial for her alleged misdeed. Unlike the Casey Anthony’s high profile trial, the news about Patel’s case been mostly restricted to the South Bend media.

Despite the subdued publicity, the trial has begun to take on a rather unusual perspective as the family’s strict Hindu beliefs are pitted against scientific fact and current law. The final decision of whether Patel is guilty of killing her newborn child or not guilty will certainly be of great interest to legal professionals.

Despite being the focus of the infanticide trial, Purvi Patel is not expected to take the stand. She is accused of taking drugs in 2013 that allowed her to abort the child so her family would not be aware of her pregnancy. When the fetus was delivered by the defendant, she disposed of it in a dumpster behind Moe’s Southwestern Grill, a restaurant owned by her family.

According to the Elkhart Truth, neither of Purvi’s parents were aware of her pregnancy, stating that she did not gain weight or exhibit any unusual changes to her body or behavior. Her parents also stated that their strict version of the Hindu religion prohibits sex prior to marriage, further defending their claim that they were unaware.

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WSBT TV shared that the focus of the trial has leaned toward both science and religion in defending Purvi Patel, although it may also be used against her. According to Purvi’s parents, their rights were denied in accordance to their religion when police forced them out of the house they shared with Purvi and did not allow them to pray in accordance to their beliefs during the questioning process. They also state that their religion strictly prohibits the killing of “anything,” which they follow by eating a strict vegetarian diet. The family’s religious beliefs may help the jury understand the defendants state of mind and may help determine her motivation and intentions concerning the fetus.

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According to reports, the original investigator, Dr. Shaku, testified that the fetus was stillborn after a 23-24 week gestation, which would make it impossible for the child to survive or take a breath. Shaku stated that his conclusion came from various slides, pictures, and other information that was received. A second doctor stated that Shaku was wrong, and the baby was between 25-30 weeks along. Dr. Joseph Prahlow believed the evidence showed that the baby took at least one breath after birth. Dr. Prahlow came to the conclusion after examining the actual body of the child.

While the beliefs of a defendant may be taken into consideration during sentencing, it is doubtful they will trump the law when the jury is asked to render a verdict. The primary fact in this case will probably be whether or not the fetus was alive when it was delivered.

The trial is expected to reconvene on February 3rd.

[Photo Courtesy: Life News]