Abortion doctors facing murder charges could be extradited to Maryland

One of the two abortion doctors indicted in Elkton on murder charges under the state's fetal homicide law may not fight extradition and could soon be brought from New Jersey to Maryland, according to the Cecil County State's Attorney.

Dr. Steven Chase Brigham, 55, of Voorhees, N.J., is being held on $3 million bail in Camden County and an arraignment hearing is scheduled there Thursday. He is charged with five counts of first-degree murder and other charges in Maryland.

Cecil County's top prosecutor, Edward D.E. Rollins, said Tuesday that he believes the doctor may not contest returning to Maryland based on conversations with the suspect's defense attorney. That lawyer, C. Thomas Brown, could not be reached for comment.

Another doctor charged in the case, Nicola I. Riley, who is being held without bail in Utah, had a brief appearance in Salt Lake County District Court. The hearing is being continued on Jan. 9 to discuss bail. Riley is charged with one count each of first- and second-degree murder in Maryland.

Salt Lake County Deputy District Attorney Jeff Hall said prosecutors plan to discuss the case with counterparts in Cecil County to see how they want to proceed. One option, Hall said, is for all sides to agree on a bail, for Riley to post it and voluntarily return to Maryland to face the charges. Hall said Riley also could waive extradition and be "transported back to Maryland."

Riley could fight extradition but she would have to prove that either the charges filed in Maryland are not valid or that she isn't the person named in the arrest warrant, according to Hall. Neither argument deals with the merits of the murder case.

Rollins said he would discuss the issue with prosecutors on Wednesday before commenting. Riley's attorney, Stuart Simms, a former Baltimore state's attorney, said he had not yet been briefed by the Utah attorney who handled the case and could not comment.

The doctors are charged with aborting a late-term fetus that prosecutors and the Maryland Medical Examiner's Office have deemed viable, or showing signs of healthy development, stemming from an abortion that authorities said was botched.

A grand jury indicted Brighman on four additional counts of first-degree murder. Police who searched the Elkton abortion office said they found nearly three-dozen late term fetuses in a freezer. Details of the case won't be made public until the suspects are arraigned in Maryland and court files are unsealed.


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