by Steven Ertelt
December 14, 2007
Oklahoma City, OK (LifeNews.com) — An Oklahoma man has been charged with two counts of murder for killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and her unborn child. The case is the latest to involve a state unborn victims law that gives justice to both mother and child when they are victims of violence.
Eric Phan, a 20-year-old resident of Oklahoma City, is charged with killing Lauren Barnes and her unborn baby on November 23.
Barnes, also 20, was believed to be between 22 and 26 weeks pregnant at the time of her death.
Phan allegedly killed Barnes after meeting with her privately at a local park in the town of Bethany to discuss her pregnancy. According to an Associated Press report, Barnes had told Phan’s current girlfriend that he was the father of her child.
Barnes told her sister in a text message earlier in the day that she was nervous about meeting her former boyfriend and and concerned about how he would react to the news.
Police learned of the possible murder when Phan’s friend David Huynh reported Phan’s supposed confession to authorities.
AP reported that Huynh told officials "that he choked her and that the last thing she said to him was that she would get an abortion."
Phan allegedly said he broke Barnes’ neck and then dumped her body at the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge northwest of Oklahoma City.
District Attorney David Prater talked with AP about the case and said it was important that both Barnes and her unborn child receive justice.
"We want people to understand that children — though they have not yet experienced birth — are valuable to us and we want potential perpetrators to understand we view these types of crimes to be very, very serious," he said.
According to the National Right to Life Committee, 35 states currently have laws that protect pregnant women and their unborn children from violent acts. Oklahoma is one such state as a May 2005 law recognizes "an unborn child" as a victim under state laws against murder, manslaughter, and certain other acts of violence.
Following upon the law enacted in 2005, Senate Bill 1742, signed into law May 23, 2006, ensures that Oklahoma’s recognition of the unborn child as a separate victim applies uniformly across all of Oklahoma’s homicide statutes.
The federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act, enacted April 1, 2004, covers unborn victims of federal and military crimes.
The laws drew heavy attention because of the national notoriety of the deaths of Laci and Connor Peterson.