Purvi Patel, an Indiana woman preliminarily charged with feticide, has been officially charged with felony neglect of a dependent following an investigation of a deceased fetus allegedly found in a shopping center dumpster; a forensic pathologist claims the fetus took a breath before it died.
Under Indiana law, feticide, a class B felony, applies in cases when someone “knowingly or intentionally terminates a human pregnancy with an intention other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus” and carries an 8- to 20-year prison sentence. Felony neglect is a class A felony and carries a 20- to 50-year prison sentence.
According to the affidavit, the prosecution claims that Patel “having the care of a dependent, did knowingly place that dependent in a situation that endangered the dependent’s life or health by failing to provide any medical care for that dependent immediately after the dependent’s birth, resulting in the death of that dependent, who was less than fourteen (14) years old.”
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The charging document states that Patel arrived at the hospital bleeding vaginally, but refused to admit to the physician examining her that she had given birth. A second physician, Dr. Kelly McGuire, was brought in to examine her, and after agreeing that Patel recently gave birth, questioned her about “the whereabouts of the child.”
She told the medical staff she delivered at home but did not see the fetus breathing or moving. She said she placed the body in a bag and put the bag in a dumpster. Although Patel stated she thought she was about two months pregnant, Dr. McGuire believed she was at least 28 weeks pregnant. According to the police report:
Fearing for the child, Dr. McGuire then drove to the Super Target and began searching in the dumpsters.
Dr. McGuire examined the body after he and police located the bag, estimated the age of the deceased fetus to be “roughly thirty weeks from conception,” and “noted no reason why the child would not have survived, but cautioned that it was based only upon an external examination,” according to police. A forensic pathologist estimated the fetus to be 28 weeks post-conception and “concluded that in his opinion, the child had been born alive and had taken a breath.”
According to the affidavit, in texts found after police examined Patel’s phone, Patel stated that she had taken drugs to try to end the pregnancy. One drug, which she said she began taking on July 10, was meant to cause contractions. The second, according to Dr. McGuire, would have had no effect on a fetus as advanced as Patel’s, as it was only meant for terminating pregnancies before nine weeks.
Patel pled not guilty, and now has 60 days to change her plea if she chooses. She must return for a court hearing on July 31, according to Fox 28, and will have a subsequent court date on September 26. Until then, she has had her passport removed and will be under electronic surveillance.