Bei Bei Shuai is free.
The Chinese immigrant who tried to kill herself by consuming rat poison and was charged with murder and attempted feticide days later when her newborn daughter died pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of criminal recklessness, a Class B misdemeanor.
Shuai’s plea agreement was announced this afternoon in Marion Superior Court and accepted by Judge Sheila Carlisle. Shuai will serve no additional jail time and was released from monitoring Friday afternoon.
Defense attorney Linda Pence said the outcome was about the best her client could have hoped for short of dismissal. Shuai was sentenced to 178 days, but time served exceeds that amount. “She has served her time in this case,” Carlisle said in approving the plea agreement.
“It feels great,” Shuai told reporters after the hastily-called final hearing in her case, which lasted less than 30 minutes. “I can tell you I feel great relief.”
The agreement also protects Shuai from any potential immigration sanctions. “Although the state has no authority regarding immigration laws, the state and defendant enter into this agreement with the belief that this conviction will not trigger adverse immigration consequences.
“If adverse immigration consequences occur based on this conviction, it shall result in the State filing a motion to set aside this agreement which shall be granted by this court,” the agreement says.
Pence has insisted that the case never should have been prosecuted. “This woman was in the throes of depression,” she said as she stood next to Shuai after the hearing. She said Shuai was prosecuted for actions she took that weren’t crimes.
Prosecutors made no remarks about the agreement during the brief hearing in which the felony counts were dropped. In order to allow the plea to the misdemeanor, the state filed amended information Friday afternoon that said Shuai on Dec. 23, 2010, “recklessly performed an act, specifically: ingested Brodifacoum, that created a substantial risk of bodily injury to a person, that is: Angel Shuai.”
Shuai, 34 at the time, was charged after her newborn daughter died days after her delivery by emergency caesarian section at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Shuai had told friends that she consumed rat poison days earlier in an attempted suicide after the baby’s father jilted her. Her friends persuaded her to seek medical attention.
Shuai was to face trial beginning Sept. 3 in State v. Bei Bei Shuai, and earlier Friday, Carlisle gathered reporters and media representatives for a decorum hearing. Pence said prosecutors had called her that morning with an offer.
Carlisle said earlier Friday she was prepared to call as many as 200 potential jurors within about two weeks.
After Shuai was charged, she spent 435 days in the Marion County Jail before a divided Court of Appeals ruled she should not be denied bail, and she ultimately was freed on $50,000 bond. One appellate court judge dissented, saying the grant of bond didn't go far enough and that she would dismiss the charges altogether.
Carlisle also approved a waiver of fines and court fee for Shuai, who Pence said had limited resources. After the hearing, Pence said Shuai was one of the kindest and most gracious young women she had ever met and works seven days a week at an Indianapolis Chinese restaurant. “She has a fabulous life ahead of her,” Pence said.
But Pence said Shuai also will bear the results of her actions, and said she sleeps with her daughter’s ashes nearby. “The one who will suffer,” Pence said, “it will be this woman.”
Shuai’s case became an international story, and she thanked supporters, who she said boosted her spirits while she was jailed. “I was really, really depressed until one day I read a letter a supporter sent to me,” she said. “I remember every one of them.”
“I’m thrilled it’s been resolved and Miss Shuai doesn’t have to undergo any more pain,” Pence said.