Kentucky Man Pleads Not Guilty in Case That Prompted Unborn Victims Bill

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 1, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Kentucky Man Pleads Not Guilty in Case That Prompted Unborn Victims Bill

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
April 1, 2004

Frankfort, KY ( — A 22-year-old man has pleaded not guilty in the shooting death of pregnant teen whose case spurred legislators to pass Kentucky’s Unborn Victims law.

Roger McBeath plead not guilty to charges that he shot and killed his ex-girlfriend, Ashley Lyons. Lyons was found shot to death in her car in January, as Kentucky legislators were considering three pieces of Unborn Victims legislation.

McBeath faces charges in Lyons’s murder and tampering with evidence. Investigators declined to state whether other individuals were involved.

Rep. Bob Damron (D-Nicholasville), who sponsored Kentucky’s Unborn Victims law, told the Louisville Courier-Journal that Lyons’s murder prompted the inclusion of an emergency clause to his bill. Because of that clause, the law became effective immediately after Governor Ernie Fletcher signed the bill into law in February.

Unfortunately passage of the legislation came a month too late to allow for charges in the death of Lyons’s son, Landon.

Ashley Lyons’s mother, Carol Lyons, criticized presidential hopeful Senator John Kerry for voting against the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act that cleared the Senate last week.

"I’m appalled that Senator Kerry voted the wrong way," Lyons told the Washington Times. "He’s running for president of the United States, and he doesn’t believe there are two victims. … I know my grandbaby was real … I have two victims."

Both the Kentucky and federal Unborn Victims laws found support from both pro-life and pro-abortion members of Congress, which is not surprising considering the tremendous public support for the measures.

A May 2003 Newsweek poll found that 84 percent of Americans believe that when both mother and child die, the attacker should be charged "for two murders instead of one," including 56 percent who believe this should apply "in all cases where a pregnant woman is murdered."

Some 29 states have laws that allow the prosecution of criminals who kill or injure unborn children as a result of crimes against a pregnant woman. Sixteen of those laws protect unborn children throughout pregnancy.

Laci Peterson’s mother, Sharon Rocha, has also been very outspoken about the need for lawmakers to support laws that will recognize a family’s loss of an unborn child. Peterson and her unborn son Conner washed up on the California coast last year. Her husband, Scott, is now standing trial for both deaths under California’s Unborn Victims law.

"Before politicians say that Conner was not really a victim of a crime, they need to think long and hard about whether they really want to say that," said Rocha.