Indianapolis, IN – Bei Bei Shuai, a 36-year-old Chinese immigrant, has been charged with murder, more specifically feticide, after intentionally ingesting rat poison during her 2011 pregnancy.
Shuai, a Shanghai native, immigrated to the US in the early 2000s with her then-husband, but the couple later divorced. In late 2010, Shuai became pregnant by another man who later abandoned her.
Emotionally overwhelmed, heartbroken, and well into her third trimester of pregnancy, Shuai attempted suicide by taking rat poison. The unstable woman survived, but her infant daughter Angel, who had to be prematurely delivered via an emergency C-section, died several days after the toxic dose in January 2011.
Rat poison (rodenticides) is a category of pest control chemicals intended to kill mice and rats by causing internal hemorrhaging. Due to the feeding habits of rodents, an effective rodenticide must be lethal in small concentrations and have a delayed effect.
Shuai was arrested on March 14, 2011 and charged with the murder and attempted feticide of her child. She was freed on bond in 2012 after 435 days in jail following an Indiana Court of Appeals ruling which permitted her release on bail. However, the court refused to dismiss the charges.
The case is unique, as it is the first of its kind in Indiana history in which a woman is being prosecuted for murder for a suicide attempt while pregnant. Although Shuai was offered a plea deal, which would have withdrawn the murder charge and left her with just the feticide and a possible sentence of 20 years, she declined.
The feticide statute, enacted in 1979, was intended to cover violent acts inflicted by third parties such as abusive boyfriends and husbands. As a result of turning down the plea bargain, the woman will now face trial and a potential punishment of 45-years-to-life in prison.
If convicted, Shuai’s case could set a precedent for criminalizing a pregnant woman’s actions against her unborn child. Such actions could include women who smoke and drink during their pregnancies.
Jury selection in the case is scheduled for August 26 and the trial is projected to last a month, according to RTV6.
[Image via Shutterstock]