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Doctor accused of murder after botched abortion will return to Md.

One of two doctors indicted in Elkton on murder charges under the state's fetal homicide law waived extradition from New Jersey on Wednesday and will return to Maryland, according to prosecutors and his attorney.

A spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor's Office in New Jersey, where the doctor was arrested last month, said that police in Elkton have 10 days to pick up Dr. Steven Chase Brigham, 55, and take him back to Cecil County.

His attorney, C. Thomas Brown, confirmed the results of the hearing but declined to comment further. He said he has not heard from police when they might retrieve his client to face five counts of first-degree murder and other charges. Elkton police said they had not heard of the court decision.

A co-defendant, Dr. Nicola I. Riley, 46, who is charged with a single count of first-degree murder, among other charges, is being held in a jail in Salt Lake City, Utah. She has a court hearing scheduled for Monday, but prosecutors in both states, along with her defense attorney, are discussing whether she will return to Baltimore voluntarily.

The full scope of the investigation remains sealed as part of a grand jury investigation and won't be revealed until the defendants are back in Maryland and arraigned in court. Defense attorneys have said they have not been able to obtain a copy of the indictment.

Elkton police have said that at least one of the murder charges for each defendant is related to a botched abortion performed in Elkton 16 months ago. It is illegal in Maryland to kill a fetus deemed viable, defined as showing signs of healthy development.

Prosecutors have said that this case is the first use of the state's law involving a doctor performing surgery. Police said that after the botched abortion, which injured the teenage mother, who survived, they found nearly three dozen late-term fetuses in a freezer. Some were 20 to 35 weeks old.

Riley's medical license in Maryland was suspended in September. Brigham, who did not have a license to practice in Maryland, was barred from practicing in the state. Both doctors previously lost their licenses or abilities to run clinics in several states.

In the case of the teenager whose abortion went awry, the Maryland Board of Physicians found that the doctors had initially treated her in Voorhees, N.J., where her cervix was dilated. The woman, 21 weeks' pregnant, was then told to drive 60 miles to Elkton, where the procedure would be completed.

After the woman's uterus ruptured at the Elkton clinic, the physician's board found, Riley put her in Brigham's rented Chevrolet Malibu and drove her to a local hospital. The board said Riley argued with staff and then returned to Elkton to perform another abortion.

peter.hermann@baltsun.com

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