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Schiavo's fate again rests with judge

For what is supposed to be the last time, Bob and Mary Schindler asked a judge Friday to let their brain-damaged daughter live.

But there's no telling what will happen next in this controversial case that made it to the U.S. Supreme Court only to be sent back down to a Pinellas judge.

The Schindlers asked Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer to forbid their son-in-law, Michael Schiavo, from removing their daughter's feeding tube after more than a decade in what some doctors call a persistent vegetative state.

Greer, who presided over the family's emotional trial last year and repeatedly ruled that Terri Schiavo would want to die, can make a ruling to take her off life support Monday. The judge also could hold a hearing or allow other doctors to evaluate her before he makes a decision.

In the motion filed late Friday, the Schindlers claim new medical treatments are available to possibly help Mrs. Schiavo, such as putting her into an oxygen chamber.

Her doctors say she is unaware of what is happening around her and that her motions and sounds are based on reflex only and will never improve. But her parents dispute that, saying other doctors and witnesses say she turns her head toward her mother, laughs at jokes and can swallow ice water.

The Schindlers also argue that their daughter would not want to be taken off life support and that they found witnesses who dispute Schiavo's testimony that his wife told him she would want to die in a situation like this. Mrs. Schiavo did not write a living will.

George Felos, Michael Schiavo's attorney, said that type of evidence is insufficient to challenge Greer's original decision. "We don't think it passes muster on its face," he said.

Felos also said the motion needed to include new evidence that has emerged since last year's trial but that the Schindlers' doctors are just "new witnesses giving spin on old evidence."

Mrs. Schiavo collapsed at her St. Petersburg home Feb. 25, 1990. Her heart stopped, and she was deprived of oxygen for five minutes.

The Schindlers and Schiavo have accused each other of trying to control Mrs. Schiavo's fate to get $700,000 she received from a 1992 malpractice suit. Only about half of that remains; much of it has been used to pay for Schiavo's legal expenses and Mrs. Schiavo's medical care.