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Murder charges reinstated against Kasigluk woman

Posted: Friday, May 05, 2000

BETHEL (AP) -- The Alaska Court of Appeals has revived murder charges against a Kasigluk woman accused of delivering a baby into a honeybucket and then throwing the baby away in the village's sewage lagoon.

The appeals court recently reversed a lower court decision to dismiss the murder indictment against Bernice Active, who gave birth to a full-term girl in May 1998.

Active, 26, had been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, second-degree murder and illegal disposal of a body.

In March, Superior Court Judge William Fuld dismissed the murder and attempted murder charges. Defense attorneys persuaded him that the state couldn't prove Active's intent to kill the child, and that there was insufficient evidence that the child was alive at birth.

''I find lack of evidence to show an intent to kill,'' Fuld said in court documents.

Prosecutor Adrian Bachman appealed the decision to the appeals court, which reinstated the dismissed charges and sent the case back to Fuld.

Defense attorney Brian Kay told the Tundra Drums that there are other motions pending before Fuld that will be heard before the case goes to trial. No trial date has been set.

The question of whether the baby was ever alive is a key point for the defense.

Michael Propst, the state's chief medical examiner, said in court documents that the baby was a full-term child who had cardiac functions. There was no evidence, based on his examination, that the child had died before birth, he said.

Active's attorney has argued that the autopsy did not show that the bay girl took a breath. Propst responded that may have been as a result of the child being born in the liquid of the honeybucket.



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