by Steven Ertelt
April 16, 2006
Erie, PA (LifeNews.com) — The attorney for a Pennsylvania woman sentenced to seven to 14 years in prison after assaulting a pregnant woman and killing her unborn child says the baby was dead before the attack. Corinne Wilcott, 23, was convicted of third-degree murder and assault in connection with a 2002 attack on Sheena Carson, which led to the death of Carson’s baby.
Prosecutors said the attack happened because Wilcott was angry that Carson was carrying a baby that Wilcott’s husband fathered. A pathologist confirmed the baby died between 15 and 17 weeks into the pregnancy because of the assault.
But Alison Scarpitti, Wilcott’s attorney, filed an appeal last week claming that Wilcott deserves as new trial because of new evidence, including an opinion from a Mayo Clinic doctor who says the baby died a week or two before the attack.
AP reports that Scarpitti wants to present evidence that Carson had health problems that led to the baby’s death and testimony from another witness who said Wilcott never kicked Carson.
Wilcott was sentenced under a Pennsylvania law which makes it a crime to injure or kill an unborn child. Some two dozen other states have similar laws.
Erie County Judge John Trucilla declined to throw out the charges on claims from Wilcott’s defense team that the law was unconstitutional.
Assistant District Attorney Jack Daneri told AP he would not comment on the new appeal.
Tim Broderick of the Erie-based People for Life, an affiliate of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, says that the case has, if anything, bolstered support for Pennsylvania’s fetal homicide law.
"There were some conflicting views about Corinne Wilcott’s culpability under this particular set of circumstances," Broderick said. "But none of the people I’ve spoken with, including those connected with Wilcott, seem to question the premise of the Crimes Against the Unborn Child Act, that the unborn child deserves legal protection."
Broderick adds that the case has also focused attention on the inconsistency of laws as they relate to abortion.
"The public clearly understands the case’s relevance to abortion. People frequently marvel at the inconsistency between laws that protect the unborn child and the current policy of unrestricted abortion. But, once again, it’s not the premise of the Crimes Against the Unborn Child Act that the average person questions. It is the lack of legal protection–in light of all the scientific evidence about the humanity of the unborn child that prompted the PA law–that seems so bizarre to so very many people."