WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Family members of murder victims rallied in Raleigh this morning in support of a House Bill that would recognize unborn victims in murder cases.
North Carolina law doesn't consider the death of an unborn child in a murder case to be a separate homicide, but if passed, House Bill 890 would allow the state to prosecute for murder.
"Right now, if a woman is assualted while pregnant it is a felony," said District Attorney Ben David. "To assault a woman with respect to a fetus, there is not protection under our laws."
Rep. Mark Milton said in a press conference, 35 states recognize an unborn child as a second victim and North Carolina is the only state in the Southeast that doesn't.
January 12, 2008 authorities discovered the charred remains of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterback and her unborn child in the backyard of Cpl. Cesar Laurean. Lauterbach was about eight months pregnant when she died.
Laurean is charged with first-degree murder in Lauterbach's death, but is not facing charges for the death of her unborn child.
Had the bill already been in effect, Laurean could have faced additional charges and penalties for the death of the unborn child.
"In the case of Cesar Laurean, the defender is facing one charge of murder, nothing in respect to the fetus," said District Attorney Ben David. "Under current the current law proposed he would be charged with two counts of first degree murder and would not get the two for one special he is currently enjoying under our laws."
If approved, House Bill 890 would become effective Dec. 1, 2009 and applies to 49 offenses committed on or after that date.