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Bill Would Allow Charge For Killing Fetus When Pregnant Woman Murdered

February 22nd, 2019 by WCBC Radio

There's a push for change in Maryland law sparked by the killing of a pregnant Howard County schoolteacher. WBAL reports Laura Wallen was 14 weeks pregnant with her son Reid when her boyfriend killed her. "There were two heartbeats that ended when our daughter, who went to the field in Damascus thinking she was going to be proposed to and instead was shot execution-style in the back of the head," said Wallen's father, Mark Wallen. But Tyler Tessier only faced murder charges for Wallen's deathbecause Maryland law states a fetus must be at least 24 weeks, which is considered viable, in order for a homicide charge to be brought. Tessier ultimately committed suicide. Legislation under consideration in Annapolis would allow murder or manslaughter charges to be brought if the fetus is 8 weeks old. "It would require proving intent," said Republican state Sen. Justin Ready, the bill's sponsor. "This is for premeditated, cold-blooded murder." Statistics indicate homicide is the No. 1 killer of pregnant women in Maryland, and 77 percent of deaths among pregnant women occur in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Maryland's pregnancy homicide rate is 10 times the national average.

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