INDIANAPOLIS — A Chinese immigrant accused of killing her unborn infant by eating rat poison while pregnant says her life has been difficult since she was charged but that she stays busy to avoid dwelling on her upcoming murder trial.
"I work all the time. I work. It helps," Bei Bei Shuai told Indianapolis television station WRTV for a story Thursday. "I don't have time to think about it. I work seven days a week."
Shuai was eight months pregnant when she ate rat poison in December 2010 in a suicide attempt after her boyfriend broke up with her. She initially was taken to Saint John's Medical Center in Anderson and then transferred to an Indianapolis hospital. Doctors called authorities when the baby died three days after being delivered prematurely.
Prosecutors charged Shuai with murder and feticide in March 2011. She was released on bond last May after more than a year in jail following an Indiana Court of Appeals ruling in her favor.
"My life has been difficult. I was scared," said Shuai, a 36-year-old Shanghai native. "It has been really, really difficult."
The case has attracted attention from medical groups and reproductive rights advocates around the globe 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. Dozens of organizations have filed friend-of-the-court briefs on Shuai's behalf.
Attorney Linda Pence says she is disappointed that prosecutors are still pursuing murder charges against Shuai. A Marion County judge ruled in January that testimony from a pathologist who did the original autopsy could not be admitted because the pathologist didn't consider other possible causes for the brain bleeding that caused the baby's death, including a drug that Shuai received while she was in the hospital.
"As of now, they have not provided any testimony from an expert that can testify that the rat poison caused the death of the fetus, which is alarming to me," Pence said. "When you charge someone with murder, the most heinous crime on the books, you would have competent good evidence before you made those charges."
Jury selection in Shuai's trial is scheduled for Aug. 26.