by Steven Ertelt
June 25, 2007
Raleigh, NC (LifeNews.com) — While Ohio authorities charge Bobby Cutts with two counts of murder for the deaths of Jesse and Chloe Davis, North Carolina officials don’t have the same luxury. That’s because they are one of a handful of states that don’t have a law allowing two charges when a pregnant mother and her unborn child are both killed or injured.
That’s a big problem for authorities because they recently found the body of an eight month pregnant Raleigh woman who was killed behind a convenience store.
Jennifer Nielsen’s killer can be charged with her death but not the death of her unborn child.
Colon Willoughby, Wake County’s district attorney, told the Associated Press his hands are tied.
"I don’t think there’s anything we can do," he said. "I try to carry out the law as it is written. The policies are decided by the legislature."
The state Supreme Court has also made it difficult for prosecutors to effect justice as it decided in a 1989 case that a second murder charge can only be brought if the unborn child survives the attack against her mother and dies later as a result from the injuries.
That upsets Nielsen’s family.
Paul Grynick, a family friend from Utah, told AP, "If the baby had been inside of her for one or two months, then I think there may be questions about it as a developing fetus."
"But at eight months, it’s a baby living inside of its mother. It’s alive," he said.
Nielsen was buried on Saturday in Utah, where she grew up. She and her husband moved to North Carolina in August and she worked as a newspaper carrier to make extra money.
Nationally, 35 states have laws that allow prosecutors to bring two charges when a criminal attacks and kills or injured both mother and child. Some 25 of those apply throughout pregnancy.
President Bush also signed a federal unborn victims bill into law in 2004 that applies in federal crimes or federal lands such as national parks, tribal lands or military bases.