Woman seeks OK to appeal convictions in her child's death She was found guilty of suffocating daughter

October 29, 1997|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A Taneytown woman, who was found guilty in March of suffocating her 4-month-old daughter, sought a judge's approval yesterday to file a belated appeal of her convictions.

Lisa E. Ruby, 21, made the request while testifying in a post-conviction hearing before Carroll County Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr.

Ruby was released from jail in June after spending 10 months awaiting trial in the death of Tabitha Meekins. Ruby led police to the infant's body, found under a pile of leaves near Prettyboy Reservoir in Baltimore County.

Ruby was acquitted on a charge of first-degree murder, but found guilty in a nonjury trial of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of child abuse, battery and reckless endangerment.

On June 5, Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. imposed a 10-year sentence on the child abuse counts and a concurrent nine-year sentence on the manslaughter charge. He suspended all but 10 months -- the time she had served awaiting trial and sentencing -- and released her under strict probation terms for five years.

In testimony yesterday, Ruby said she had asked attorney Daniel M. Shemer several times to file an appeal of her conviction within 30 days of sentencing, the maximum time allowed to request a judicial review.

Shemer, the public defender who represented Ruby during the six-day trial, testified that he missed the deadline. He said his concern for negative publicity surrounding the case prompted him not to file an appeal immediately.

Shemer said he had discussed the merits of an appeal with the appellate division of the state office of the public defender. He said it had been agreed that appealing Ruby's conviction on the child abuse charges was viable.

Shemer said during Ruby's 30-day window he also was trying to obtain a stay of execution for a man on death row. His reference was to Flint Gregory Hunt, who was executed by the state July 2, the first prisoner in Maryland to die against his will since 1961.

He said that he recalled several conversations with Ruby about filing an appeal, including one call he received on July 2, the day Hunt was executed.

"I was not in the best of emotional states during that time," he said.

Ruby's original sentencing date was May 19, but had been delayed until June 5, Shemer said. He said he could have filed the appeal in time but said he was confused.

"I forgot disposition had been delayed [until June 5]," he said.

Pub Date: 10/29/97

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