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Henderson man charged with assault on girlfriend, unborn child

Posted March 7, 2012
Updated March 8, 2012

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— A Henderson man accused of biting his pregnant girlfriend's face was being held in the Vance County jail without bond Wednesday night. 

Antonio Cornelius Small, 27, of 821 S. William St., is also charged with the battery of her unborn child. The charge is part of Ethen's Law, which went into effect Dec. 1. 

The legislation deems that anyone who commits murder, manslaughter or assault against a pregnant woman is guilty of the same crimes against the fetus, regardless of whether an attacker knows about the pregnancy.

The law is named for Ethen Nielsen, the unborn son of Jenna Nielsen, who was eight months pregnant when she was stabbed to death in June 2007 while delivering newspapers to a convenience store on Lake Wheeler Road. The case remains unsolved.

Small is accused of biting his girlfriend, who is five months pregnant, on her left eye on Tuesday, according to arrest warrants. Small's girlfriend said she was physically OK after the incident, but declined to comment further to WRAL News.

Man charged with battery of unborn child Man charged with battery of unborn child

"This is the first time I've seen a case like this," said Nathan Baskerville, a Henderson defense attorney not connected with the case. "It appears that any assault on a woman that is also pregnant at the time will lead to the possibility of a charge being lodged for an assault on an unborn child, not even necessarily causing damage or harm to that child." 

In addition to other arrests, Small spent more than two years in prison for an assault conviction. He is due in court on April 17. 

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  • sunshine1040 Mar 8, 2012

    In some states a Mother is charged if she uses alchol or drugs while knowing she is pregnant. Kind of hard to get per natal care if you are in denial that you are pregnant or do not have access to a doctor no transportation or money and do not know what clinic will give you free health care.

  • ICTrue Mar 8, 2012

    What kind of an animal bites someone on the eye? If my dog did that, I would put him down...just sayin

  • Rocky2.0 Mar 8, 2012

    Typical DAs: loading up irrelevant charges for leverage in plea bargaining.

  • Lightfoot3 Mar 8, 2012

    "I'll wager others may have the viewpoint that given the risks/difficulties, etc. of enduring the pregnancy are so great, women should be burdened with a greater responsibility than men for ensuring an unwanted pregnancy does not occur." - 4YourConsideration



    Well, I know if I was a woman, I'd NEVER trust that responsibility to a man. :)

  • 4YourConsideration Mar 8, 2012

    She alone bears the physical brunt of carrying the fetus to term and enduring the childbirth.

    Lightfoot3: Point well-taken! I can certainly see the validity to that argument. This is not my own belief.....but I'll wager others may have the viewpoint that given the risks/difficulties, etc. of enduring the pregnancy are so great, women should be burdened with a greater responsibility than men for ensuring an unwanted pregnancy does not occur. Again - not my own belief. It's 50/50 in my world. But I've hung around these forums enough to safely predict others will advance that line of thought.

    Thanks again for another well thought out response!

  • Lightfoot3 Mar 8, 2012

    "Four irrefutable facts lead me down the path of requiring the biological father's consent" - 4YourConsideration


    I understand and agree with your facts. They at least support the idea that the father should know about a potential abortion before it happens. And those facts show the equality of both the man and the woman in this matter. However, there is one big inequality that falls solely upon the woman, which is the physical aspects of the pregnancy. She alone bears the physical brunt of carrying the fetus to term and enduring the childbirth. Whether that's enough to trump your four facts is subjective, I guess.

  • smaki1252 Mar 8, 2012

    For those of you who don't understand how a bite on the eye could harm a developing fetus please be aware that a very common and deadly source of a systemic infection is the human bite.
    @reel4fun- you are right..the article states he has served time in prison for assault.

  • sunshine1040 Mar 8, 2012

    Men if you do not that woman to mother your child keep your pants pulled up and the fly closed. That way no birth control failures

  • sunshine1040 Mar 8, 2012

    Marks on the MOMs body often show up as birthmarks on the baby she is carrying. Mom tripped over a dog 3 months before I was born and bruised her back. I still have Doctors ask how I bruised my back. Feel fortunate it was not our face that was bruised

  • kermit60 Mar 8, 2012

    If he can be charged with assault on the fetus even though no harm was done to it then we should be able to charge a mother with assault if she drinks alcohol, takes drugs, doesn't eat right, fails to get pre natal care etc. The law has to be equal for everyone and not just applied when it's politically correct or being used to further some social change.

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