Murder charge could follow right-to-die fight
Stepdad seeks life support for 11-year-old he allegedly beat into a coma
BOSTON - The stepfather of an 11-year-old girl went to Massachusetts' highest court on Tuesday hoping to block the state from taking her off life support.
If the girl dies, he could face a murder charge for taking part in the beating that left her comatose.
Haleigh Poutre was hospitalized in September after her stepfather and adoptive mother kicked her and beat her nearly to death with a baseball bat.
Within two weeks of being charged with assault and battery, the adoptive mother, Holli Strickland, who was also Haleigh's aunt, was found dead alongside her grandmother in a possible murder-suicide.
Her stepfather, Jason Strickland, is free on bail while awaiting trial on assault charges.
The state Department of Social Services has custody of the girl and wants to remove her from life support, citing opinions from her doctors that the girl is in a permanent vegetative state.
A juvenile court judge has granted the state's request to disconnect Haleigh's feeding tube and ventilator.
Jason Strickland appealed, and the Supreme Judicial Court scheduled arguments for Tuesday morning.
Both of Haleigh's doctors agree that she should be removed from the ventilator, but they are split over whether her feeding tube should be disconnected.
They have said that with her feeding tube alone, Haleigh could live as long as two months.
Without any life support assistance, she would die much sooner, the doctors said.
Haleigh was adopted by her aunt about five years ago after her biological mother moved to Virginia with a new boyfriend.
Jason Strickland never formally adopted the girl, but is arguing that as the stepfather, he should be considered a de facto parent and allowed to have a say in whether she lives or dies.
His lawyer, John Egan, has insisted his client isn't motivated by the chance he could be charged with murder if the girl dies.
"We should be coming down on the side of life as opposed to death," he said.
Read that lawyer's quote at the end. Should've thought of that BEFORE your client beat his stepdaughter within two inches of her life, jackass!
Anyone want to wager Congress feels the need to step in again?