Court Roundup

North Carolina
Family at exec's crash sentencing: You're heartless

NORTH HAVERHILL, N.H. (AP) - Family members of a Vermont couple killed in a car crash were unflinching during a sentencing hearing Wednesday as they poured out their anger toward a New Hampshire man who admitted causing the wreck, which also killed their unborn fetus.

Prosecutors have said Robert Dellinger told investigators he was trying to kill himself in December 2013 when he drove his pickup truck across an Interstate 89 median and smashed into an SUV carrying 24-year-old Amanda Murphy, who was 8 months pregnant, and her fiance, 29-year-old Jason Timmons.

The Valley News of West Lebanon reported that relatives of Murphy and Timmons tore into Dellinger during the first of the two-day sentencing hearing.

"I have been robbed and violated. I will never see or touch my child ever again," the newspaper quoted Timmons' mother, Debbie Blanchard, as saying, reporting that she fought back tears. "How could you be so heartless? You still have a family; you have taken mine from me."

Dellinger appeared to be deeply remorseful during the hearing, the newspaper reported.

"You have my deepest, most heartfelt apology, condolences and remorse for your loss. I am so sorry," the 54-year-old Dellinger said through sobs. "My guilt and remorse will be with me forever. I ask for your forgiveness, and I pray for your healing."

Dellinger, of Sunapee, New Hampshire, was a senior vice president and chief financial officer at PPG Industries Inc. when he left in 2011 because of health problems. He also held high-level posts at Sprint Corp., Delphi Corp. and General Electric Co.

He pleaded guilty in February to negligent homicide for the deaths of the couple, who were from Wilder, Vermont, and to assault for the death of the fetus. He faces 12 to 24 years in prison when sentencing resumes Thursday.

During Wednesday's hearing, Dellinger's wife, Deborah, called him a man of "ethics, integrity and friendship," the Valley News reported.

"We are devastated by the deaths of your loved ones," she said as her husband broke down at the defense table. "We have been and continue to pray every day for your collective peace and comfort."

Defense lawyers have said Dellinger was suffering from delirium due to a "toxic regime" of prescription medications for multiple sclerosis and depression. In asking for a shorter sentence, they also contend he was suffering from withdrawal of a sleeping aid.

Attorney Steven Gordon wrote in a sentencing brief they now know "a medical event" was the main cause "of this accident."

Dellinger has been jailed since his arrest in December. His lawyers want a sentence that would see him serve only about eight months in prison after being given credit for time already served.

Investigators say Dellinger told them that on the day of the accident he "had a disagreement with his wife and went to Vermont to drive around. He said he was very depressed and gloomy and wanted to have a car wreck and kill himself."

On Wednesday, Dellinger told the court: "I have never been suicidal."

Assistant Attorney General Geoffrey Ward said in court that Dellinger's truck reached 101 mph in the seconds before the crash and was going 87 mph one second before he hit the SUV. His truck sheared off the top of the SUV.

The medical examiner's report compared the injuries suffered by Murphy and Timmons to those of plane crash victims. Dellinger suffered cuts and bruises.

Connecticut
Judge: Teen must stay in hospital for treatment

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A judge says a 17-year-old Connecticut girl forced to undergo chemotherapy must remain in the hospital until she finishes treatment later this month.

The judge's decision Wednesday also says the teen's mother cannot visit her at the hospital while she is in temporary state custody.

The teen, identified only as Cassandra C., testified by teleconference during a closed hearing last month, asking to finish her treatments from home or have visits with her mother.

Doctors say her Hodgkin lymphoma, diagnosed in September, is in remission but she needs the remaining treatments. She says she is no longer fighting them.

The state was awarded temporary custody after the teen missed several medical appointments last fall and ran away. Her lawyers unsuccessfully tried to stop the treatment she opposed.

Indiana
Advocate says sentence for feticide alarming

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - An Indiana woman received a 20-year sentence in the death of her premature infant, a punishment the head of a national advocacy group called cruel and a misuse of the state's feticide law.

A judge sentenced Purvi Patel, 33, of Granger, a South Bend suburb, on Monday, saying Patel had abused her position of trust when she gave birth prematurely, threw the baby in the trash and lied to hospital personnel about giving birth.

Lynn M. Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, said Wednesday that Patel's sentence marks the first time a woman in the U.S. has been convicted and sentenced for attempting to end her own pregnancy, despite claims by advocates of feticide laws that they would not be used to criminalize abortion.

"This is quite traumatic and frightening," Paltrow said, adding that more than 35 states have feticide laws that were intended to be used if a woman's fetus was killed by someone else. "Many people would love to see an end to abortion, but a majority of even those people don't want to see women locked up in prison."

Prosecutors contended Patel took drugs from China to end the pregnancy because it was more convenient than having a medical abortion. Patel's attorney said prosecutors never proved she took any drug to end the pregnancy and that she has been vilified.

Patel was found guilty in February of neglect of a baby - whose body was found on July 14, 2013, in a trash bin behind her family's restaurant in Mishawaka - and of feticide, which in Indiana is defined as a person who knowingly or intentionally terminates a pregnancy with an intention other than to produce a live birth, to remove a dead fetus or to perform a legal abortion.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Mark Roule sought a 30-year sentence for Patel on the neglect charge and 10 years for feticide, saying she failed to seek medical help when the baby was born alive. She was sentenced to 30 years on the neglect charge, with the final 10 years suspended, and ordered to serve a concurrent six-year sentence on the feticide conviction.

Patel has indicated she plans to appeal.

Other women have been charged with feticide for attempting to end their own pregnancies, but none until now had been convicted and sentenced, Paltrow said.

Published: Fri, Apr 03, 2015

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