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The Boston Globe


Judge delays decision on murder charges for Irish nanny

WOBURN -- A Middlesex Superior Court judge put off a decision today on whether to let stand first-degree murder charges against an Irish nanny accused of fatally beating a 1-year-old Cambridge girl.

Judge S. Jane Haggerty said she would decide on Wednesday whether to reduce bail for McCarthy, who is currently being held without bail.

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At today’s hearing, defense lawyers David Meier and Melinda Thompson chastised the prosecution for allegedly failing to share key pieces of evidence three and a half months before trial, April 7.

“Frankly, an innocent person sits in jail while we are begging for discovery,” Thompson said.

McCarthy is accused of inflicting injuries on Rehma Sabir at the child’s home near Harvard Square that led to her death in January. McCarthy was arrested days after the child died, and in April a grand jury indicted her on first-degree murder charges.

A lawyer for McCarthy, who is in the United States illegally, argued in a September hearing that the charges should be dropped because prosecutors knowingly presented false evidence to the grand jury that indicted her. She said 90 percent of the evidence was inadmissible.

Prosecutors had countered that the evidence was accurate and relevant.

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Prosecutors say the girl died from massive head injuries while in McCarthy’s care, noting that her injuries were consistent with violent shaking and multiple blows to the head.

Defense lawyers have said McCarthy, who is 34, never hurt the child.

In the September hearing, Thompson, the defense lawyer, said prosecutors offered witness testimony that prejudiced the grand jury against McCarthy. For instance, evidence that Rehma had sustained bone fractures in her leg between two weeks and two months before her death, for instance, “made it look like my client was abusing the child,” she said.

The defense has also noted that the Sabir family traveled extensively in November and December without McCarthy.

But prosecutors said jurors deserved to know about the earlier injuries to help determine whether there was probable cause to charge McCarthy with murder.

The defense also objected to the inclusion of statements from the family’s neighbor, who recalled the child crying so intensely that she knocked on the family’s door the day of the alleged attack. Prosecutors said the information was relevant to the case.

Thompson also accused Rehma’s mother, Nada Siddiqui, of lying to the grand jury when she said her daughter that had never fallen off a bed. She later conceded Rehma did fall while on a recent trip to Pakistan.

Patrick Fitzgerald, an assistant district attorney for Middlesex County, described the fall as minor, and said the child did not hit her head.

Maria Sacchetti can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @mariasacchetti

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