Archive for Saturday, February 2, 2008

Fetal homicide charge still possible in shooting

February 2, 2008


— The shooting death of a pregnant woman last week in Lansing would be an ideal case on which to bring charges under the state's new fetal homicide law, said a state legislator who pushed to get "Alexa's Law" on the books in Kansas.

"That's exactly what this law is for," said Rep. Steven Brunk, R-Bel Aire.

Leavenworth County prosecutors have charged Sedale Fox, 23, Lansing, with first-degree murder in the Jan. 22 shooting death of Olivia Jackson. Authorities have said Fox was Jackson's boyfriend and the father of Jackson's unborn daughter.

But Leavenworth County Attorney Frank Kohl has not yet filed any charges in the death of Jackson's fetus.

"We haven't ruled anything in or anything out," Kohl said earlier this week.

Brunk speculated Kohl may be awaiting Jackson's autopsy to gather more evidence in the case before filing charges under Alexa's Law. Otherwise, Brunk said, "I just can't imagine why you wouldn't prosecute under this law."

Kathy Ostrowski, legislative and research director with Kansans for Life, said the newness of Alexa's Law may be holding up charges in the death of Jackson's unborn daughter.

"I think there's some confusion about the law," Ostrowski said.

The law allows prosecutors to bring murder, manslaughter or battery charges in cases where a fetus is intentionally harmed. Alexa's Law, named after the fetus of a 14-year-old murder victim, has been on the books only since July 1, 2007.

Under Alexa's Law, Ostrowski said, prosecutors don't have to consider age in weighing whether to file charges in the death of the fetus. The law spells out that it applies to fetuses "at any stage of gestation from fertilization to birth."

Both Ostrowski and Brunk said they believe this is the first case since Alexa's Law has been in effect in which it could be applied. The law, however, does not mandate that a prosecutor file charges in such cases.

"It's an option, not a mandate," Ostrowski said.

But to Brunk, it's an option Kohl should consider.

"It would give him two opportunities to get justice, not just one," Brunk said. "It doubles his chances by making these charges."

And, he noted, sentences become more severe upon conviction in a double-murder.

"If there are two murders, it just ratchets up the penalty," he said.

The 2007 Legislature approved Alexa's Law and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signed the bill into law. Alexa's Law specifies its provisions do not apply to the mother of the unborn child or for any medical procedure, including abortion, performed by a physician or other licensed medical professional at the request of the pregnant woman or her legal guardian.


Jeff Barclay 9 years, 11 months ago

Indeed a mother and a little girl were murdered. Book 'em for two Dano! A tragedy like this is exactly what this law was intended to cover.

oldvet 9 years, 11 months ago

"I say a fetus which isn't viable outside the womb is no more a person than a spleen or gall bladder:"

which must make Tiller's late-term actions murder...

MaryKatesPillStash 9 years, 11 months ago

Reality_Check, I agree with your recommendation, but not your logic. If someone were to shoot a person who was on life support, it would still be murder, even if the person had no chance at surviving once the plugs were pulled from the outlets.

ilikestuff 9 years, 11 months ago

Here are some examples of viable children: fetuses said to be only parts of their mothers who lived and grew into individual happy healthy people without their mothers:

Marcus Richardson - 19 weeks, 6 days - 780 gm - Jan. '72 - (University Hosp., Cincinnati) Melissa Cameron - 20 weeks - 450 gm - Dec. '83 - (Sault Ste. Marie Hosp., Cincinnati Enquirer) Kenya King - 21 weeks - 510 gm - June '85 - (Med. World News, Nov. 11, 1985, p. 119) Suzanne South - 21 weeks, 2 days - 644 gm - July '71 -(Bethesda Hosp., Cincinnati) Kelly Thorman - 21 weeks - 596 gm - March '71 - (St. Vincent Hosp., Toledo) Melissa Murray - 22 weeks - 510 gm - June '83 - (Victoria, Texas - Houston Post) Tracy LaBranch - 22 weeks, 1 day - 538 gm - March '72 - (Battle Creek Enquirer) Ernestine Hudgins - 22 weeks - 484 gm - Feb. '83 - (San Diego, Washington Post) Mimi Faulkner - 23 weeks - 484 gm - Nov. '78 - (San Diego, Boston Herald) Tascha Hudson - 23 weeks - 580 gm - March '74 - (Brooke Army Hosp.) Simmonne Jayette - 23 weeks - 595 gm - April '78 - (Montreal Jewish General Hospital) Alicia Ponce - 24 weeks - 644 gm - April '74 - (Associated Press)


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