LegalReader.com  ·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

News & Politics

Calif. Court Debates Pregnancy, Murder


— January 7, 2004

Does the murderer of a pregnant woman also murder the fetus, even if the killer claims not to know about the unborn child?

The California Supreme Court heard arguments on that question Wednesday, and most justices appeared to disagree with a lower-court ruling that overturned a murder conviction of a man who says he didn’t know his victim was pregnant.

Harold Taylor was convicted of murdering his former lover in a fit of rage. Investigators said Patty Fansler was at least 10 weeks pregnant when he shot her to death in her Ukiah apartment in 1999.

On appeal, Taylor argued that because he didn’t know Fansler was pregnant, he could not be prosecuted for murdering her fetus.

California’s fetal-murder law was passed in 1970, but the 2002 ruling by the San Francisco-based 1st District Court of Appeal was the first to find that a killer needed to know about a fetus to be guilty of murdering it. . . .

[D]uring nearly an hour of arguments, most justices appeared satisfied that prior knowledge of pregnancy was not necessary for a fetal-murder conviction. The court must rule within 90 days.

Details here from the AP.


Does the murderer of a pregnant woman also murder the fetus, even if the killer claims not to know about the unborn child?

The California Supreme Court heard arguments on that question Wednesday, and most justices appeared to disagree with a lower-court ruling that overturned a murder conviction of a man who says he didn’t know his victim was pregnant.

Harold Taylor was convicted of murdering his former lover in a fit of rage. Investigators said Patty Fansler was at least 10 weeks pregnant when he shot her to death in her Ukiah apartment in 1999.

On appeal, Taylor argued that because he didn’t know Fansler was pregnant, he could not be prosecuted for murdering her fetus.

California’s fetal-murder law was passed in 1970, but the 2002 ruling by the San Francisco-based 1st District Court of Appeal was the first to find that a killer needed to know about a fetus to be guilty of murdering it. . . .

[D]uring nearly an hour of arguments, most justices appeared satisfied that prior knowledge of pregnancy was not necessary for a fetal-murder conviction. The court must rule within 90 days.

Details here from the AP.

Join the conversation!