Local News

Man could face murder charges in twins' deaths

Posted June 24, 2008 2:10 p.m. EDT
Updated June 24, 2008 7:00 p.m. EDT

— 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 .

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."