Local News

Henderson man charged with assault on girlfriend, unborn child

Posted March 7, 2012 9:38 p.m. EST
Updated March 8, 2012 5:57 a.m. EST

— 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.

"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.