UPDATE (Jan. 5, 2012): Brigham waives extradition hearing, will be moved to Maryland to face murder charges within the next few days.
Salt Lake City, UT – Accused murderer Nicola Riley made a brief court appearance in Salt Lake City, Utah, yesterday, her first one since being arrested on a fugitive warrant issued by Maryland authorities after a grand jury issued murder indictments for her and her associate Steven Chase Brigham.
Riley’s hearing was continued until January 9 when her attorney is expected to ask for bail and extradition back to Maryland to face charges will be considered. She is currently being held without bail. Her attorneys have stated that they want her released on bail so she can self-surrender to authorities in Maryland.
“Based on her history of dishonesty and criminal conduct, it would be unwise to trust Riley to turn herself in,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “She is being charged with murder, not jaywalking. Release on bail is inappropriate.”
Riley served three years in a Federal Military Prison at Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas after being convicted of felonies related to credit card and identity theft. She lied about her charges and incarceration to medical board authorities in three states in order to gain licensure. Operation Rescue discovered the untruths and reported her to the authorities. Her licenses have since been surrendered or restricted.
Meanwhile, the Baltimore Sun has reported that Brigham, who is being held on $3 million bail in the Camden County Jail in New Jersey, is not expected to fight extradition. His hearing is scheduled for January 5.
Brigham was charged with five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of second-degree murder. Riley was charged with one count of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder. The charges are the result of a Grand Jury investigation. Additionally, Brigham and Riley were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit murder. A grand jury investigated the case for 16 months before issuing the indictments.
Additional details of the case are expected to be released at the time Brigham and Riley are arraigned and the court records unsealed.
Operation Rescue obtained public documents that paint a picture of a gruesome late-term operation that operated dangerously outside the law. Brigham is accused of illegally initiating late-term abortions between 24 and 36 weeks gestation at his Voorhees, New Jersey abortion clinic, which can only legally do abortions up to 14 weeks. He would then assemble the women in the throes of labor and have them drive in a caravan to the secret abortion clinic in Elkton, Maryland, where the abortions would be completed by either himself of Riley. Brigham has never been licensed in Maryland.
A botched abortion in Elkton, followed by suspicious behavior by Brigham and Riley caught the attention of emergency room physicians, who reported them to the authorities. Union Hospital examined and evaluated injured patient D.B. and determined that the injuries she suffered were so severe that the decision was made to transport her via helicopter to Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore where she was rushed into surgery immediately upon her arrival. There, doctors removed the remains of her partially aborted baby from her abdominal cavity, removed and repaired part of her small intestine, and repaired a tear at the back of her uterus. (See Johns Hopkins Records)
When police raided the Elkton abortion mill, they discovered the remains of 35 aborted babied stored in a freezer. Operation Rescue obtained documents seized from the clinic, including a log that indicates the size of the babies aborted at the Elkton clinic, which workers referred to as the “Grace” clinic.
“This log paints a gruesome picture of the carnage that took place at that illegal abortion clinic. These were viable babies, many of them healthy and near-term. These are abortions that are opposed by 80% of the American people. It represents a tragic and unnecessary loss of life,” said Newman.
Brigham has argued in briefs before the New Jersey Board of Physicians that since he worked under the auspices of a licensed physician in Elkton, he did nothing illegal. However, the physician he referred to was 88-year old George Shepard, Jr, whose disabled arm makes it impossible to do abortions.
“Shepard was used as a pawn in this scheme in order to give the appearance of legality,” said Newman. “In reading through his interview with the Maryland authorities, we got the strong impression that his mental capacities were beginning to fail. He was a patsy for Brigham, nothing more.”
Shepard’s medical licenses in Maryland and his home state of Delaware have since been revoked. Shepard was not charged with any crime.
This case will test the strength of Maryland’s fetal homicide law, which allows murder charges to be filed if a viable baby is killed in the commission of a crime. It is the first time it has been applied to the deaths of pre-born babies during criminal abortions.