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Monday, December 29, 1997 Published at 22:14 GMT


Louise Woodward appeal date set
image: [ Louise Woodward: appeal will be heard on March 6 ]
Louise Woodward: appeal will be heard on March 6

Louise Woodward's appeal against her conviction for the manslaughter of a baby in her care will be heard on Friday, March 6.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will hear appeals from both the defence and prosecution against the British au pair's conviction for the manslaughter of eight-month-old Matthew Eappen.

The defence is challenging the manslaughter verdict. The prosecution wants her original murder conviction to be reinstated. No decision will be made on the day - the seven judges will give their decision at a later date.

[ image: Judge Hiller Zobel]
Judge Hiller Zobel
A jury at the Middlesex Superior Court in Cambridge convicted Woodward of second-degree murder after a three-week trial.

Judge Hiller Zobel reduced the conviction to manslaughter and freed her by imposing a sentence equal to the 279 days she had already spent in custody awaiting trial.

The 19-year-old Woodward, from Elton, near Chester, is staying in Massachusetts while the appeals are heard.

The court schedule means opening arguments from both the defence lawyers and the District Attorney's office will be lodged by January 20.

Briefs arguing against the appeals will be filed by February 17, with both sides lodging their replies 10 days later.

The Massachusetts court system has given priority to the appeals because of the huge publicity and controversy surrounding the case.

In Miss Woodward's home village of Elton, supporters of the British au pair said they were delighted that a date had finally been set for the appeal hearings.

Sandra McCabe, a member of the fundraising campaign committee, said: "We're just hoping that it will all be sorted out quickly. I have felt so sorry for Louise's parents Sue and Gary."

Mrs McCabe said letters of support were still arriving.

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  Internet Links

Local media coverage on Eastern Massachusetts home town connection

Louise Woodward campaign for justice

Massachusetts courts

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