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Man could face murder charges in twins' deaths

Posted June 24, 2008

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— A man charged in the shooting of a pregnant woman could face murder charges in connection with her twins' deaths, Duplin County's district attorney said Tuesday.

"If they were born and breathed a breath of air, and (it's) determined that they were born alive and subsequently died as a result of the gunshot wound to the mother, that would constitute murder in North Carolina," District Attorney Dewey Hudson said.

The babies, a boy and girl, died May 27 immediately after their injured mother, Lisa Wallace, 29, of Warsaw, delivered them, authorities said.

Wallace, five months' pregnant, was watching fireworks outside an apartment complex on Memorial Day when, authorities said, Gregory Chapman allegedly opened fire on an undisclosed target.

Wallace, who was hit in the upper left torso, was an innocent bystander, police said. She underwent emergency surgery at Pitt County Memorial Hospital and, as a result of the shooting, delivered the babies the next day, investigators said.

"I remember I was out of it a lot the next day when I gave birth, but I remember holding my babies. And I remember that they were alive," Wallace said. "I do remember that."

U.S. Marshals arrested Chapman, 22, of 706 W. Hayes St. in Burgaw, in New York City Monday and charged him with one count of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury.

"I want to be certain we can prove the babies were born alive before we charge him with first-degree murder," Hudson said.

North Carolina law does not recognize the death of a fetus or unborn child as a result of a violent crime as a homicide. The first-degree murder charge would stand only if there is proof the babies were alive when they delivered.

"This is the second time in six months that I've had expectant mothers lose their babies by acts of alleged criminals," said Hudson, who is also prosecuting the homicide case of Camp Lejeune Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach.

She was eight months' pregnant when investigators found her charred remains in the back yard of a fellow Marine, Cpl. Cesar Laurean, in January.

That high-profile case, as well as others, has led to a renewed interest in a proposed fetal homicide law that has failed to pass several times in the General Assembly. Two bills, Senate Bill 295 and House Bill 263, are currently stalled in the Legislature.

"And it's time, I think, our Legislature address this issue to protect all of the expectant mothers and their unborn children in North Carolina. This is getting to be ridiculous that we do not have laws to protect our unborn children," Hudson said. "Somebody needs to protect these children."

Hudson said his office is working with New York authorities to extradite Chapman to North Carolina. If he doesn't fight it, he could be back by the end of the week.

Chapman also faces one count of discharging a weapon into occupied property; authorities said he fired a gun into a car a few moments before he shot Wallace.

A second man, Roland Alvin Young Jr., of 861 Deep Bottom Road in Wallace, was also arrested and charged with two counts of accessory after the fact for allegedly driving Chapman away from the crime scene.

Wallace said she thinks Chapman, if convicted, should face the death penalty.

"I did everything I could to make sure my babies were healthy," she said. "(It's not right) for somebody else to just come along and take them from me like that. I feel like it was wrong. It was real wrong. They never had the opportunity to come into the world right."


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  • anneonymousone Jun 25, 2008

    I am also pro-choice, though I do not know if I could choose an abortion for myself. This shooting is dreadful, and there needs to be a way for pregnancies-in-progress to be protected.

    It seems to me that limiting the right to terminate a pregnancy to a woman and her medical practitioner (with clauses to specify actions that may need to be taken under extenuating medical circumstances) and making all other human-caused terminations of pregnancy criminal ought to be easy enough to do without arguing Roe vs. Wade all over again.

    I hope the woman has lots of support and counseling to help her deal with her grief.

  • Sandollar Jun 25, 2008

    Murder is murder. When will North Carolina become a progressive state with relationship to laws. If you study domestic abuse you will learn that abuse/death does rear its head above all other instances when a woman is pregnant. This is another reason why NC should pass a law to protect the tiny fetus. Domestic abuse is rampant in North Carolina. Like I said murder is murder. Abuser know that if they kill a fetus there is no punishment.

  • pebbles262004 Jun 25, 2008


  • MamaBearNC Jun 25, 2008

    I don't get why people have to make this whole "what is life" issue so complicated. Once the egg is fertilized there is human DNA. At 6 weeks after fertilization brain waves can start to be measured as well as the heart beat. Aren't you alive until your brain dead? When I had a miscarriage scare they did an ultra sound. I saw this little person sitting there. He looked like a little cupie doll. I was 7 weeks pregnant - 2 weeks after my first missed period. His heart was beating. He was moving. He was alive. People choose ignorance because if you acknowledge the reality of life then that would just be wrong to abort or view a dead fetus as a murder.

  • ladyblue Jun 24, 2008

    To be sure the medical staff know whether or not these twins breathed that one breath needed as they speak of. This is ridiculous. Murder for both of those babies. They'd still be in the oven cooking if he hadn't abruptly caused their abort. What do our leaders need to get the picture.

  • djofraleigh Jun 24, 2008

    7 months means they were probably viable under other circumstances...so that is one thing.

    IF we said it was murder in the womb, then abortionists would be murderers, but then, I think they are if they are not saving the mother's life. We can't even blame the Nazis. Oh wait, I can't say that for it might offend someone if I make them think of dead babies.

    I once wanted, and thought best, that an abortion take place for a teen girl. That baby, wasn't aborted, was born and though it took sacrifice to raise her, became a most wonderful woman.

    Let's see, what is learned by me by that lesson? How did it shape my thoughts of the 30 millions aborted babies since Roe v Wade?

    Those with experience with abortion are the ones who will work the hardest and make the biggest difference and save the next million.

    Please don't have sex if you can't handle a pregnancy.

    Don't have sex with someone you know you wouldn't marry.

    We are all responsible for what we do & don't do.

  • teacher-mom Jun 24, 2008

    They need to talk to the people in the delivery room. THey would know if the children were alive.

    There does need to be some more protection for unborn babies.
    Bless theeir little hearts.

  • Clinton Jun 24, 2008

    givemeabreak said: Lets look at abortion. I believe in the right to choose. I personally would not choose. However, I also believe it should be done early in a pregnancy. Shooting someone is NOT comparable.....the man should be charged. They were alive and through HIS actions they are not! END OF discussion as I see it.

    I agree 100 percent. I support a woman's right to choose even though I would not have an abortion myself. That being said - if the coroner finds that they took 1 breath then he should be charged with all 3 murders. If not, then he shouldn't. (grr!) However that does not mean that I would endorse any changes in law that would protect a fetus if that fetus would not be viable outside the womb under normal conditions.

  • FragmentFour Jun 24, 2008

    The problem with passing the law the way it is currently being presented in the NC legislature, is that there is NO allowance made for unintentional or even no-fault harm coming to the unborn. If the pregnant wife of a driver is with him during a traffic accident, both parents COULD be charged with murder simply for putting the fetus in a position where it wasn't completely safe. I've never found anyplace completely safe.

    As for this case - the guy should get whatever is possible for him to be charged with under current law.

  • Seeminglyopposed Jun 24, 2008

    DSHELL99-Logical this man was trying to kill someone- it was just unfortunate that she was a victim of circumstance. And this should be Manslaughter. What a joke...That is why prisons are over crowded, and must have a computer within one of the cells for this kind of comment. This man killed 2 innocent people....Period.....!