by Steven Ertelt
October 13, 2006
Philadelphia, PA (LifeNews.com) — The trial has begun in a Pennsylvania case involving a man who is charged with killing a pregnant woman and her unborn child. Local authorities say Stephen Poaches, the father of the baby, has admitted to killing his girlfriend, LaToyia Figueroa, because she refused to have an abortion.
Poaches’ murder trial began yesterday before Common Pleas Court Judge Teresa Sarmina.
During questioning, Lisa Lawrence, who was dating Poaches at the same time as Figueroa, said she didn’t request that Poaches stop seeing her.
"I wanted him to do what would make him happy," Lawrence said.
However, a Philadelphia Daily News report indicated that Poaches wasn’t happy that he was the father of two unborn children to two different women. Though Lawrence wasn’t concerned about him dating Figueroa, she wanted her to have an abortion.
The three members of the love triangle had a phone conversation just four months before Figueroa disappeared and she reportedly told the other two that abortion is "not an option for me."
Poaches was arrested in August 2005 after police ended their month-long search when they found the dead woman in Chester, Pennsylvania, about 13 miles away from Philadelphia.
Investigators have told reporters that Poaches admitted he strangled Figueroa in rage when she told him she didn’t agree with having an abortion. They had just gone to a prenatal checkup beforehand. Figueroa was the mother of a seven year-old daughter.
After Poaches allegedly killed Figueroa, he tried to move her body and that’s when police apprehended him.
During the hearing, Lawrence testified that Poaches asked her to buy a shovel and hoe form a local hardware store. He told her at the time that Figueroa would often disappear and Lawrence testified that she didn’t want to know any more about what happened.
Poaches did not enter into a plea agreement during the hearing and his attorney, Michael Coard, told the Daily News he should not be found guilty of first-degree murder because he didn’t intend to kill Figueroa.
Poaches had planned to present his case in court, but has agreed to let Judge Sarmina decided his fate, the newspaper indicated.
Relatives and friends of Figueroa had covered the city in fliers trying to find the young woman and a reward of $100,000 was offered for any information leading to her.
"Now she can rest in peace," her father, Melvin Figueroa, said after her body was found last year. "All I want is justice with that peace."
"Why he did it, I will never understand why, because she never did harm to him," he said, after a memorial service for Figueroa.
"I had a bad feeling about him from the beginning," Melvin said of his daughter’s boyfriend. Poaches was supposed to have dinner with him and his wife one evening and left without an explanation. He never saw Poaches again.