Even though there’s no conference this week, the Supreme Court today granted a petition for review in the high-profile case of Chelsea Becker, who is awaiting trial for murder.  The court’s order requires an expedited superior hearing about whether Becker can file “a renewed motion to be released on [her] own recognizance or for the reduction of bail . . . in light of In re Humphrey (2018) 19 Cal.App.5th 1006, 1041-1045.”  (Regarding Humphrey, see here and here.)

As Alex Wigglesworth reported for the Los Angeles Times in August, Becker has been charged because she had a history of meth addiction when she gave birth to a stillborn boy with high meth levels in his system.  (See also Bob Egelko’s coverage last month in the San Francisco Chronicle and ‘s article in the New York Times.)

Today’s action does not directly concern the merits of whether Becker can be prosecuted under Penal Code section 187, which defines “murder” as including “the unlawful killing of . . . a fetus, with malice aforethought,” but which also excludes a death-causing act that “was solicited, aided, abetted, or consented to by the mother of the fetus.”  That issue is the subject of a separate petition for review by Becker that is still pending and that is supported by numerous amici, including the state’s Attorney General (see here and here).

The court has already granted review in a somewhat similar case that has gotten less attention.  In People v. Brown, which the court agreed to hear a year ago, the Court of Appeal affirmed a murder-by-poison conviction for a mother whose baby died five days after birth and who, during her pregnancy and while breast feeding, used heroin, meth, and marijuana.