Schindlers launch new appeal
Schiavo attorney calls further legal action futile, desperate

Saturday, March 26, 2005 Posted: 2152 GMT (0552 HKT)

(CNN) -- With few options left, the parents of Terri Schiavo have filed an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court to reinsert their brain-damaged daughter's feeding tube.

Within the course of 12 hours, the Schindlers received legal blows from two courts -- the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia, late Friday, and Florida Circuit Court Judge George Greer in Clearwater on Saturday.

Bob and Mary Schindler have now lost more than two dozen legal opinions in both state and federal courts, which have consistently sided with their daughter's husband -- and legal guardian -- Michael Schiavo. He has said that he is simply following his wife's wish not to be kept in a persistent vegetative state.

Speaking earlier with reporters in Dunedin, Florida, on Saturday, Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, said, "I would hope that the parents' side realize that any further legal action will be futile. We can understand their desperate efforts in this case. But I would hope that at some point, they leave that behind and begin to cope with this on a more personal level."

Felos said that he had visited Terri Schiavo for 20 minutes at her hospice in Pinellas Park on Saturday.

"Frankly, when I saw her...she looked beautiful. In all the years I've seen Mrs. Schiavo, I've never seen such a look of peace and beauty upon her."

He refuted charges made by Schiavo's parents that her lips were bleeding, her skin was peeling and that she appeared in discomfort.

Felos said that "it felt right and appropriate that Mrs. Schiavo not be fed and sustained through an artificial device" and that "she has a right to die with dignity" and "in peace" without the release of video and photographs of her at this time.

Additionally, Felos said that Schiavo received last rites, which includes Communion, the day the tube was removed, and that a court has ordered that she be able to receive the sacrament one more time before she dies.

Felos said no exact time for that has been set, but that the rites would be administered by the hospice priest.

He said Schiavo's breathing has been regular and that her death doesn't appear "imminent." He said that Schiavo's remains would be cremated and interred in a family plot in Pennsylvania, where she and her husband grew up.

Felos said that Michael Schiavo has been at his wife's bedside around the clock, except when her other family members want to visit.

Differing impressions
Impressions of Terri Schiavo's condition differ from her parents' side.

"She is fighting like hell to stay alive. And I want the powers to be to know that," Bob Schindler told reporters after visiting his daughter at the hospice Saturday. "Anyone that has the authority to come in and to save Terri, they can do it. It's not too late. She's fighting and we're asking you to fight with her."

Schindler said his daughter has been showing signs of "starvation and lack of hydration."

The 41-year-old's feeding tube was disconnected under state court order more than eight days ago. Doctors have said she likely will die within two weeks from the time the tube was removed.

In his five-page decision Saturday, Florida Circuit Court Judge George Greer said that Schiavo's parents had failed to meet the burden of proof necessary to prove their latest assertion: that Terri Schiavo had attempted to verbalize "I want to live."

The motion filed by Schiavo's parents motion said, "She managed to articulate the first two vowel sounds, first articulating AHHHHHHH and then virtually screaming WAAAAAAAA."

Schiavo did not say anything further on that occasion.

Greer said Schiavo's utterances came only after being touched -- consistent with evidence presented in a 2002 trial.

"All of the credible medical evidence this court has received over the last five years is that this is not a cognitive response, but rather something akin to a person jerking his/her hand off a hot stove long before he/she has thought about it," Greer wrote.

He is the same judge who ordered the removal of the feeding tube last week.

Meanwhile, the Schindlers have been imploring Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the nation's leaders to step in.

Outside the hospice Saturday, Bobby Schindler, Terri Schiavo's brother, challenged lawmakers to go inside and see her.

"And when they come out, you need to ask them if Congress and the governor were wrong to get involved in my sister's case."

More than 100 protesters have gathered outside Hospice House Woodside, holding vigil and praying on this Easter weekend. Some are carrying wooden crosses. Others are carrying signs. "Don't murder Terri," one sign read. "Michael is a murderer," read another.

Years-long legal battle
Terri Schiavo has been hospitalized, bedridden and unable to speak or feed herself since 1990, when she suffered heart failure and resulting brain damage.

Her parents argue that their daughter never made a right-to-die declaration and would not want to be, in their words, "starved to death."

Her husband argues that his wife had said, before her illness, that she would not want to continue living if she were in such a condition.

The legal fight between the two sides have lasted a decade.

Tight security
At least 10 protesters, including three children, were arrested at Schiavo's hospice Friday. They are expected to face trespassing charges.

Meanwhile, FBI agents have arrested a North Carolina man on suspicion of soliciting offers over the Internet to kill Michael Schiavo and Greer. Richard Alan Meywes of Fairview is accused of offering $250,000 for the killing of Schiavo and another $50,000 for the "the elimination of the judge who ruled against Terry."

Meywes was arrested without incident at his home around 5 p.m. Friday on charges of solicitation of murder and transmission of a threatening communication via interstate commerce, authorities said.

If convicted, Meywes could face up to 15 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines. He is expected to make an initial court appearance Monday in U.S. District Court in Asheville, North Carolina. (Full story)

Judge Greer has been under 24-hour protection by two U.S. marshals because of increased threats against his life by those unhappy with his handling of the Schiavo case.

CNN's Ted Barrett, Bob Franken, Joe Johns, Bill Mears and John Zarrella contributed to this report.