Trial Begins: Man Allegedly Killed Girlfriend Refusing Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 29, 2011   |   6:20PM   |   Pensacola, FL

The trial has begun for a Navy man charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of a pregnant woman who refused his request for an abortion.

Zachary Littleton was denied lower bail in a court hearing last May and the 26-year-old petty officer third class is accused of killing Samira Watkins, who was 25, because she refused his request to get an abortion. The case has a similar ring to it as it reminds officials of the killing death of Laci Peterson and her unborn child Conner.

According to the Pensacola News-Journal, Watkins was last seen alive by her family on October 25, 2009, when she left her grandmother’s home. Officials say they believe Watkins went to see Littleton, who then took her life. Littleton is married and has another child but was reportedly having an affair with Watkins, whom he got pregnant. Wanting to keep the pregnancy a secret, Littleton asked Watkins to get an abortion, but she refused.

Littleton initially told investigators that he wasn’t sure if her unborn child was his. However, a search of his computer at the time found search results for abortion prices at clinics in Pensacola and in Florida. Search results also included apparent attempts to uncover information on how to hide a murder, including “Effects of sulfur on human remains,” “lyme and dead bodies,” and “what speeds up human composition?”

Watkins’ body was discovered by two men riding a personal watercraft in Bayou Grande on November 3. They found her body washed ashore in luggage near a scenic overlook. The paper did not indicate how far along in pregnancy Watkins’ baby was at the time of their death. The two met while Littleton was serving at Pensacola Naval Air Station in August 2009.

The men who discovered Watkins’ body indicated her face from her mouth to her eyes was covered in duct tape.

“The defendant was in the military, where adultery can get you in trouble,” Assistant State Attorney Bridgette Jensen said this morning in her opening statement, according to the Asheville Citizen Times. “The defendant was married, where adultery can get you in trouble.”

But the newspaper indicated Littleton’s attorney, Sharon Wilson, claims the state has little evidence to tie Littleton to the murder and said his DNA does not appear on or in the duffel bag where Watkins’ body was found.

“You won’t hear about the glaring lack of evidence by the state,” she said. “At the end of the trial there will be reasonable doubt in your minds.”

Also during the hearing, Littleton appeared in videotapes showing him answering questions from Pensacola Police Department Detective Jonathan Thacker and the footage shows him denying knowing anything about Watkins’ disappearance but revealing details about their relationship.

Jayson Barnes, supervisor of the uniform patrol division of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, responded to the call when the men found Watkins’ body. “Her face had been duct-taped from the chin up to the forehead,” Barnes said, according to the paper.

The killing of pregnant women who refuse abortions or attempts to force them to have abortions using certain drugs is becoming commonplace. reported on a Utah man who formerly lived in western Colorado who stands accused of giving his pregnant girlfriend the second part of the two-part abortion drug in an attempt to force her to have an abortion.

In this case, 31-year-old Jared Merril Ahlstrom appeared in Mesa County District Court on Tuesday where he faces a felony charge of unlawful termination of pregnancy. The drug eventually caused a miscarriage and the death of the unborn child.

In December, a Seattle-area man found himself in police custody after allegedly killing his girlfriend and their infant daughter after the woman refused his request to get an abortion.

Daniel Thomas Hicks is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the death of 28-year-old Jennifer “J” Morgan and 13-month-old Ema Morgan.

Hicks was charged after he was apprehended following the discovery of the bodies by Morgan’s mother and cooperation with other relatives who aided them in locating Hicks.

Legal papers the Times obtained say Hicks wanted Morgan to have an abortion and claimed she “was just trying to trap him with the pregnancy.” They say Hicks made several threats about killing Morgan and himself.