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Pregnant Marine's Slaying Draws Support for Fetal Homicide Law

Posted January 21, 2008

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— The slaying of pregnant Camp Lejeune Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach has sparked increased support for a state law that would protect unborn children.

Current North Carolina law does not consider the death of an unborn child in a murder case to be a separate homicide.

"A public outcry is really about the only way we have to get these things done," said Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake County, a co-sponsor of one of two fetal homicide bills – Senate Bill 295 and House Bill 263 – that have stalled in committees in the General Assembly.

On Jan. 11, Lauterbach's charred remains were found in a backyard pit at the home of a fellow Marine, Cpl. Cesar Laurean. Investigators described the remains of her unborn child as tragic and disgusting.

"The fetus was developed enough that the little hand was about the size of my thumb," Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown said. "The little fingers were rolled up."

When the bills were introduced, various women's rights and pro-choice groups spoke against it. Opponents said they worry that a pregnant woman could be held responsible if she doesn't protect her fetus from an abuser. Others argue the bill could step on the abortion debate.

"Some people think it might impact a woman's right to choose, which it absolutely does not," Hunt said.

Supporters believe that is why it has been difficult to get a vote on the bills. The measures could come up again in this year's legislative session.

Lauterbach's slaying is not the first killing involving a pregnant woman that has sparked debate about the state's not having a fetal homicide law.

Last summer, the slaying of Jenna Nielsen in Raleigh also raised the matter. She was killed while delivering newspapers to a convenience store.

Authorities say Lauterbach died of blunt force trauma to the head around Dec. 15, and they are searching for Laurean, 21, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Mexico.

They have said they believe he is in Mexico, hiding from an arrest warrant that charges him with Lauterbach's death.

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  • Obscurite Jan 23, 2008

    "Kinda reminds me of how we became a country.. emotionally charged Declaration of Independence, Boston Tea Parties... those opportunists!!!" tarheelpatriot

    Yeah, except for part two of the statement..."add folks with an agenda to push". However, I can see in your response to Ohmygosh why you would gloss over that part of my post. Nice how you smokescreened your agenda into some sort of patriotic sentiment.

  • tarheelpatriot Jan 22, 2008

    Just started a blog to debate this so it can continue past 7pm.
    Title : Fetal Homicide Law

  • tarheelpatriot Jan 22, 2008

    Obscurite writes"Take an emotionally charged case...add folks with an agenda to push put it in the oven on low temp for a bit to let it rise...yeah, that's how we should make all our legislative decisions. hear that noise? That's not opportunity knocking, it opportunists..."

    Kinda reminds me of how we became a country.. emotionally charged Declaration of Independence, Boston Tea Parties... those opportunists!!!

  • tarheelpatriot Jan 22, 2008

    Ohmygosh writes" remember it is the prosecution must show the baby would have lived. That is no small task. Perhaps an impossible one. The defense need only pick apart his case-- much easier.
    In practice, the defense could also counter with "only God" really knows.

    Do you read the paper or watch the news?? This law is being applied all over the country without all the problems you mention. Remember Laci and Conner?? Oh I forgot, you consider Conner just a tumor because he wasn't born yet!!!!

  • Adelinthe Jan 22, 2008

    "So there would be two trials? One for the mother and the other for the unborn entity?"

    Yes, there should be, and the child should be represented by a child's advocate, just like a living one should (but often doesn't).

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Adelinthe Jan 22, 2008

    "Remember it is the prosecution must show the baby would have lived."

    Not WOULD have lived, but COULD have lived, and this child surely was viable, at least until its mother was beaten which may well have killed it before its mother was actually dead.

    No matter how one looks at this, a child has value, and those who have value should be defended and should receive justice.

    Praying for all.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • CarolinaGirl25 Jan 22, 2008

    This is where the law really stinks. That man should still be charged with two counts of murder. That baby was just as much a person as you and me. I sure hope they do something to charge this monster with two counts of murder and sentence him to death!

  • ohmygosh Jan 22, 2008

    Cris,

    Remember it is the prosecution must show the baby would have lived. That is no small task. Perhaps an impossible one. The defense need only pick apart his case-- much easier.

    In practice, the defense could also counter with "only God" really knows.

  • isabella731 Jan 22, 2008

    How simple can it be? If the child would have been able to live on its own outside the mother's body, then the killer murdered TWO people and should be charged with two murders. I don't get why it is so hard for NC to pass this law? You take two lives, you pay for two lives. Skip the politics and be human for a change.

  • Obscurite Jan 22, 2008

    CNN's reporting that the marine was sighted in Mexico last week by his cousin (http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/01/22/missing.marine/index.html)

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