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Pregnant Marine's slaying draws renewed support for fetal homicide law

Posted April 21, 2009

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

Cpl. Cesar Laurean is charged with first-degree murder in the December 2007 death of Lauterbach, whose charred remains were found a month later in a shallow grave behind his Jacksonville home. Lauterbach was seven months pregnant at the time of her death.

The death of Lauterbach and her unborn child, whom the family named Gabriel, has elicited an unprecedented level of anger among area residents, Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown said.

"It appears to me that the murder of Gabriel incites the unbelievable desire for vengeance from the people," he said. "People also relate to me their anger and shock that North Carolina does not have a law to protect the life of an unborn baby who is murdered."

Current North Carolina law does not consider the death of an unborn child in a murder case to be a separate homicide. Sen. Doug Berger, D-Franklin, would like to change that. He says he believes the unborn fetus has value that should be protected.

"There is a value in that life that is developing and that should be valued and recognized,” Berger said.

Berger is sponsoring a bill that would upgrade a charge against anyone who attacks a pregnant woman, causing her to lose her baby. If the mother is beyond 20 weeks into her pregnancy, or the assault is associated with domestic violence, the attacker would face a separate charge.

Berger says the bill is intended to combat domestic violence, but he knows not everyone will be happy with it.

"I think the interest groups on both sides oppose this legislation,” Berger said.

When similar bills have been 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.


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  • brewmonkey Apr 21, 2009

    ah. thank you.

  • RonnieR Apr 21, 2009

    MSG = Master Sergeant

  • christineswisher Apr 21, 2009

    Abortion is wrong - killing is killing - no matter who does it. How do you regulate that? Ban abortion? It's not an easy answer. I do believe that if a woman is murdered and she is pregnant, there should be some justice for the child - what's hard about that???

  • pebbles262004 Apr 21, 2009

    I think that thier should be charges against killing an unborn child. You know what to do to not let it happen if you did not want any kids then you should not have played unprotected

  • Nikka Apr 21, 2009

    Ugh, when will the broken record stop?

    They're gonna get a murder conviction. Let's worry about better things.

  • brewmonkey Apr 21, 2009

    "bobd, since it involved to military people, is iscovered by the UCMJ. How do you explain the Army courtmartialing the MSG for murder of a dependent off base then? Going on right now at Fort Bragg. Granted they let the civies handle it and they blew it and now they're gonna do it right. Did you sleep through your UCMJ classes or were you ever in?"

    wa4mjf, did you sleep through grammer classes or were you ever in? and MSG? what is that, Madison Square Garden or monosodium glutamate?

  • brewmonkey Apr 21, 2009

    "People also relate to me their anger and shock that North Carolina does not have a law to protect the life of an unborn baby who is murdered.""

    somehow, i think it's gonna be kinda hard to protect the life of someone who's been murdered, regardless of born/unborn.

  • RedStatesManWatts Apr 21, 2009

    Just like the pregnant woman in Massachusetts who started stabbing herself in her abdomen to kill her unborn baby now they want to try her for murder of her unborn. That story as wellas this story only goes to prove that an abortion is murder as well. Something that I have argued against my whole life. Abortion is murder and these two stories should teach the pro choice crowd that they are wrong as they always have been.

  • mdymes Apr 21, 2009

    Killing is Killing! If it is ok for a woman to make the decision to kill her unborn child then it should not be illegal in other circumstances. Have it one way or the other. I choose life! Mike

  • CaptainSpleen Apr 21, 2009

    NC does have laws protecting fetuses, they just don't result in a separate murder charge. General Statute 14-18.2(b) and (c): A person who in the commission of a felony causes injury to a woman, knowing the woman to be pregnant, which injury results in a miscarriage or stillbirth by the woman is guilty of a felony that is one class higher than the felony committed.

    A person who in the commission of a misdemeanor that is an act of domestic violence as defined in Chapter 50B of the General Statutes causes injury to a woman, knowing the woman to be pregnant, which results in miscarriage or stillbirth by the woman is guilty of a misdemeanor that is one class higher than the misdemeanor committed. If the offense was a Class A1 misdemeanor, the defendant is guilty of a Class I felony.