Local News

Victim's Family Makes High-Tech Push for Fetal Homicide Law

Posted February 13, 2008

— A movement to enact a fetal homicide law in North Carolina is gaining attention as one murder victim's family starts a high-tech push for change.

Senate Bill 295 and House Bill 263 are two fetal homicide bills that have stalled in committees in the General Assembly but could get new life when the Legislature reconvenes in May.

Sixty-four lawmakers support giving prosecutors the option to charge someone with two counts of murder for killing a pregnant woman.

As it stands now, North Carolina is one of 15 states without a fetal homicide law.

"For people to tell me he doesn't matter, and that he's not a viable human being – that's absurd," said Kevin Blaine, whose daughter Jenna Nielsen was stabbed to death outside the AmeriKing convenience store in Raleigh on June 14.

Blaine is talking about his unborn grandson, whom the family called Ethen. Nielsen, 22, was eight months pregnant when she died.

To get support for action, Blaine and the Nielsen family have put information about the legislation on their Web site. Visitors can add their names to an online petition and send their concerns via e-mail to state leaders.

"What we're worried about is protecting women and punishing murderers and thugs who kill pregnant women," said Rep. Dale Folwell, R-Forsyth, who supports House Bill 263.

Various versions of the bill have failed to pass the General Assembly for the past decade. The most recent version includes language that would protect abortion rights in the state.

Those who oppose the bill are worried it will erode those rights anyway, however.

The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, for example, says the state already has a law that increases penalties for injuring a pregnant woman. (Read more about why the coalition opposes fetal murder legislation.)

Another concern for the group is whether the legislation could hold an expectant mother who is a victim of domestic violence responsible for the death of her child because she did not protect it.

Other opponents are concerned that an assailant might not know the victim is pregnant.

Blaine dismisses those concerns and hopes lawmakers will also.

"To me, this is a common-sense issue," he said. "My daughter was pregnant. She was murdered. My grandson died with her."

Police have not named a suspect in Nielsen's slaying, but they have released a composite sketch of a man wanted for questioning.

The person of interest, according to Raleigh police, is a man believed to be in his late teens or early 20s, standing about 5 feet, 3 inches tall and weighing about 120 pounds. He had black hair pulled into a ponytail and wore a dark-colored sleeveless shirt and baggy denim shorts. Police believe he might be Hispanic.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Raleigh Police Department's tip line at 919-227-6220 or the "America's Most Wanted" tip line at 800-CRIME-TV.

Nielsen's family is offering a $15,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the case.


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  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Feb 14, 2008

    "murder for a reason, but still murder"

    Exactly, murder for a reason. We are removing a human animal from the face of this planet. That's good enough for me.

    As for it being a deterrent, of course it ISN'T in its current state. It is not swift, nor is it consistent or regular. For it to be a deterrent, it needs to be all these things. It needs to be on Pay-Per-View so people can see what happens to those that murder innocent people. It will take a while, but we can get it to a point that it is a deterrent for most. The rest, well, nothing will be a deterrent if the death penalty is not. So what else can we do?

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Feb 14, 2008

    "TruthB.K. In otherwords you're after revenge?"

    Not unless the person being executed happened to kill someone I love. No, suffice to say I want JUSTICE. These human animals do not deserve to live another day.

    My only reservation is making sure we are executing the RIGHT person.

  • Voice of Reason 23 Feb 14, 2008

    " I don't care about rehabilitation and I don't care about it being a deterrent or not. I care about justice for the convicted murderer. I HOPE there is ALSO a deterrent factor, but if not, so be it."

    Ummm, TBK - the only argument in favor of the death penalty is as a deterrent. Otherwise, it's just murder (murder for a reason, but still murder).

  • NashCountyMomma Feb 14, 2008

    I completely agree that there should be a law in regards to this. Even if passing this law only makes one person think twice before they kill a pregnant woman...thats one child spared.

    DataClerk:"If some men were more responsible than women would not have to have an abortion or worry about being murdered"

    That comment is not always true. Woman have to be held acountable for their actions as far as getting pregnant is concerned. It takes two!

  • ohmygosh Feb 14, 2008

    In otherwords you're after revenge?

  • methinkthis Feb 14, 2008

    What is really sad about this is that it should be a no-brainer. From conception there is life evident in the womb. In some cultures the age of a new born starts at 1 because they recognize this. Now because some people think they have a 'right' to kill the unborn, our laws offer no protection to the unborn. This is absurd. Recently a psychologist was hacked to death with a meat cleaver in her office. This same violence happens to the unborn daily.
    "the test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children"

    -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer (stood for life against Nazi Germany)

  • Dr. Dataclerk Feb 14, 2008

    You are right. These said new laws has not stop the killings yet.

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Feb 14, 2008

    "Does anybody really think this law will reduce the number of these crimes? Harsher sentences after the act do little to stop the act."

    A double murder carries a more harsh sentence than a single murder. So it results in more time served. And if they execute the murderer, even better. I don't care about rehabilitation and I don't care about it being a deterrent or not. I care about justice for the convicted murderer. I HOPE there is ALSO a deterrent factor, but if not, so be it.

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Feb 14, 2008

    "While I support this bill, how does one person actually serve two life sentences or face the death penalty twice?"

    It has to do with actual time served. Consider that kid that killed both his parents. He was tried separately for each. The first sentence was something like a MINIMUM of 21 or 25 years, or longer. If that was his only conviction, he would maybe get out in 21 years. But the OTHER parent's murder conviction came with additional MINIMUM years. So he's looking at 40-50 years at a MINIMUM, combined.

  • ohmygosh Feb 14, 2008

    It's ironic that those arguing for this law probably consider the death penalty not a deterrent. Hence there should be no death penalty.

    Does anybody really think this law will reduce the number of these crimes? Harsher sentences after the act do little to stop the act.

    It comes down to judges and the criminal justice system enforcing existing laws. No new politcally motivated laws are needed.