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Biddle v. Commonwealth

Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia
141 S.E.2d 710 (1965)


Facts

Shirley Mae Biddle (defendant) was charged with the first-degree murder of her baby. There was evidence that, at the time of her death, the baby was extremely dehydrated, malnourished, and it appeared she had not eaten for several days. Police detectives noticed plenty of food in Biddle’s house and found another small child “lying on newspapers in a bassinet, with a leather jacket over her, and her diapers were wet and dirty and there was a rash on her buttocks.” At trial, medical testimony showed that the baby was born weighing 5 pounds 8 ounces. Upon the baby’s death, the infant weighed 4 pounds 5 and one-half ounces. Biddle testified that she fed the baby every day, but that she would not drink all the milk she gave her and also said that the baby never cried because she was hungry. Biddle said she loved the infant and did not treat her any differently than the rest of her children. Biddle’s husband accused her of having the baby, and the rest of her children, by other men. Biddle was convicted and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment and she appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (I’Anson, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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