Nanny charged with toddler's murder

Last updated 13:58 22/02/2014
Aisling Brady McCarthy
ACCUSED: Aisling Brady McCarthy.

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An Irish nanny charged with murder in the death of a 1-year-old Massachusetts girl in her care will remain in custody while awaiting trial, a judge has ruled.

Middlesex Superior Court Judge Jane Haggerty, however, warned that she would ''seriously reconsider'' that decision next week if prosecutors failed to quickly turn over key medical evidence that lawyers for Aisling Brady McCarthy needed to prepare for trial.

McCarthy was charged in the January 2013 death of Rehma Sabir, who was taken to the hospital with severe head injuries on her first birthday. She died two days later.

McCarthy's lawyers had requested that she be released on US$5000 (NZ$6000) bail, arguing that two medical experts have concluded that the girl suffered bone fractures three to four weeks before her death when she was not in McCarthy's care.

Prosecutors, however, argued against bail, saying that the older injuries did not contradict their allegation that the girl suffered fatal head trauma at her family's home in Cambridge while in McCarthy's care.

Prosecutors said DNA examination of material used to wipe the scene of the girl's fatal head injuries showed that McCarthy handled the materials, contradicting her statements that she did not know how the girl was hurt.

McCarthy's lawyers have criticised prosecutors for failing to quickly provide evidence they need to prepare for trial and the judge appeared to lose patience with prosecutors over that dispute.

''They are entitled to have what they need,'' Haggerty told prosecutors, after a lengthy back-and-forth over the whereabouts of 72 medical slides that defense lawyers want to send to their experts for examination.

''Those 72 slides are basic, fundamental exculpatory evidence,'' defence lawyer David Meier said in court.

Defence lawyers said that because of the delays they were not prepared to go to trial, which was scheduled for April 7.

Prosecutors had submitted a list of some 90 potential witnesses, including 35 doctors. The majority of those witnesses had not testified before the grand jury that indicted McCarthy, Meier said, adding that defence lawyers would need additional time to review these new witnesses.

Prosecutors have aggressively sought to thwart McCarthy's bail application, saying US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have issued an order for her detention and that if she is released into their custody, they are required to deport her immediately for overstaying her visa. That problem stems from the fact that McCarthy came to the US about 12 years ago under a visa waiver programme that entitled her to stay 90 days. Those who stay longer than that waive their right to appeal and must be deported immediately.

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McCarthy's attorneys, however, said that she was determined to remain in the United States to clear her name at trial. She was ready, they said, to be monitored by an electronic bracelet and to sign documents promising to stay in the country to face trial.

- AP

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