A US judge has scheduled the long-delayed trial of an Irish nanny accused of murdering a one-year-old baby in her care for October 13th.
Aisling Brady McCarthy (36) has been charged with murder over the death of Rehma Sabir on January 16th, 2013, two days after the child was found unresponsive in the family home in Cambridge, outside Boston.
The Co Cavan woman, who has been living in the United States since 2002, denies assaulting the child on January 14th, 2013.
She was released on bail two weeks ago after more than two years in custody, on the condition that she remains at home in Massachusetts and agrees to be monitored 24 hours a day with an electronic tag.
Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald told Judge Maureen Hogan at the Superior Court of Middlesex County, sitting in the town of Woburn outside Boston, that they estimated their case would take three to four weeks and would involve more than 50 witnesses.
Lawyer Melinda Thompson, for Ms McCarthy, told the judge that she estimated their case would take a week to a week and a half.
This timetable would mean the trial could last until the second half of November, if the case does indeed start on October 13th.
Ms McCarthy appeared in court, entering the courthouse building through the public entrance for the first time since being charged more than two years ago.
Ms McCarthy was accompanied by her husband and other relatives and supporters.
The trial has been delayed several times already due to disagreements between the prosecution and defence over the disclosure of medical reports and conflicting expert evidence in the case.
The judge said that she would know more about whether the trial can proceed in October as planned once the Massachusetts medical examiner office completes a full review of the medical evidence in the case by June 5th. She set another status hearing for June 9th.
Ms McCarthy refused to answer questions as she left the courthouse.
Ms Thompson said she was “hopeful” that Ms McCarthy would be cleared of the charges once the medical examiner completes the review of the evidence.
She told reporters that the defence intended to call about 10 expert witnesses at the trial.
Asked if she was disappointed that the trial had been delayed again, Ms Thompson said: “We want this to be done right for Aisling. We are going to let the medical examiner’s office do their independent review again. It’s impressive that they are doing it.”
In a reversal of her previous position at a hearing earlier this month, Judge Maureen Hogan granted Ms McCarthy’s release on a reduced bail of $15,000 (about €13,500), down from $500,000 (about €449,000), due to “several developments” in the case. It was Ms McCarthy’s fourth attempt at applying for release on bail.
The judge released the Irish woman, who has lived illegally for most of her time in the US, after American immigration officials agreed not to deport her, on the basis that she was in effective state custody by wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet on her ankle.
The medical examiner’s decision to review the evidence again, in response to nine medical expert reports submitted by Ms McCarthy’s defence, was “a rare and significant occurrence”, the judge said.
The judge referred to the recent findings of two medical expert witnesses for the prosecution, who said that fractures initially said to have occurred to the child on the same day as the head injuries that ultimately caused her death actually occurred weeks earlier, when the child was not in her care.