Nanny's appeal date set

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The Independent Online
The British nanny Louise Woodward has been given a date for the hearing of appeals in a US court against her manslaughter conviction.

Woodward could know in a little over two months if she faces a minimum 15-year jail sentence or whether she will be free to come home.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is due to hear appeals on 6 March, from both Woodward and the prosecution against her conviction for the manslaughter of eight-month-old Matthew Eappen while she worked for his parents.

Woodward, 19, from Elton, near Chester, has been forced to remain in Massachusetts while the appeals are heard.

The court schedule for the appeals means opening arguments from both the defence lawyers and the District Attorney's office will be lodged by 20 January. Briefs arguing against the appeals will be filed by 17 February, 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.

A jury at the Middlesex Superior Court in Cambridge convicted Louise of second-degree murder, but the judge later reduced the conviction to manslaughter and freed her by imposing a sentence equal to the 279 days she had already spent in custody.