Murder Charges Dropped Against 2 Doctors in Maryland Abortion Case

Wednesday, 07 Mar 2012 11:43 AM

By Greg McDonald

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Murder charges against two doctors have been withdrawn in a 2010 Maryland abortion case that has attracted national attention, according to The Baltimore Sun.

The doctors, Nicola I. Riley and Steven C. Brigham, were the first doctors charged under Maryland’s 2005 fetal homicide law for performing a medical procedure.

“This indictment was wrong from the beginning,” said Sharon Krevor-Weisbaum, an attorney for Riley, who the newspaper said was charged with murder along with Brigham for an abortion in August 2010 at a clinic in Elkton. Brigham also had faced additional murder counts for other abortions, the Sun reported.

“It should never have been brought. It is factually and legally inaccurate,” Krevor Weisbaum told the Sun.

Maryland is one of 38 states with a fetal homicide law, which has been used to prosecute cases involving pregnant women who have been killed or violently injured in some way, resulting in the loss of a fetus. The Riley and Brigham case, however, was the first under Maryland law involving an abortion.

Riley’s defense team had argued in a motion for dismissal that a successful prosecution of the case would constitute “a de facto ban on abortion” in Maryland, according to the Sun. Their motion had been scheduled for oral argument next week until Cecil County state’s attorney Edward D.E. Rollins III suddenly withdrew the charges on Tuesday.

Rollins, however, left open the possibility that charges could be brought again.

“The initial investigation conducted by the Elkton Police Department substantiated that the demise of five viable fetuses occurred in Elkton, Rollins said. “However, recent consultations regarding necessary expert witness testimony conflicted with anticipated expert testimony which put the State in a position in which it cannot successfully prosecute these matters at this time.”

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