Pregnant Woman Who Shot Herself Earlier This Year Has Felony Charge Dropped

Discussion in 'Law and Justice System' started by GotZoom, May 9, 2006.

  1. GotZoom
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    GotZoom Senior Member

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    SUFFOLK — If an assailant had shot Tammy Skinner in the stomach on the day she was to give birth, killing her baby, he could have been prosecuted.

    Because she shot herself earlier this year, however, General District Court Judge James A. Moore decided Monday that she can’t be tried for producing a miscarriage or abortion, and he dismissed the felony charge.

    Skinner’s attorney argued at a preliminary hearing that the charge is meant to be used against a third party and that the same offense with similar wording has been tested in courts in both Florida and Georgia and failed. It simply does not govern an expectant mother doing something to herself, Kevin E. Martingayle said.

    “We can feel all of the moral outrage in the world for what this woman did,” he said in court, “ but the facts in this particular situation are that this statute does not apply.”

    Prosecutors could ask a grand jury for a direct indictment in the landmark case, but right now they are still trying to decide what to do, Commonwealth’s Attorney Phil Ferguson said .

    “We are dealing with a woman who, by her own hands, killed her child on the day of its birth,” he said. “This was a nine-month fetus, clearly in the realm of viability. Whether it meets legal tests to constitute criminal conduct – we’re reviewing and exploring our options.”

    Prosecutors have said since the beginning that Skinner’s case could be a first in the state. Virginia’s fetal homicide law doesn’t direct guilt to the mother either. That law, adopted in 2004, refers to killing “the fetus of another.”

    Skinner, 22, also was charged with using a firearm in commission of a felony. That charge was not prosecuted because it must apply to a certain list of felonies, not including the miscarriage statute.

    Skinner was found guilty Monday of filing a false police report, a misdemeanor for which the judge sentenced her to 30 days in jail, all suspended. Prosecutor Marie Walls requested that Skinner repay the cost of the police investigation. A hearing July 10 will decide whether she’ll have to pay the estimated $750 to $1,500 .

    Skinner, Walls said in court, called police from a car dealership before dawn Feb. 23 and told them a man had shot her in the stomach and pushed her out of the car. She later changed her story to say that the baby’s father shot her.

    Police found blood in Skinner’s red compact car, and a gun, according to a search warrant.

    On Monday, Martingayle said he was happy with the judge’s decision.

    “It was clear to me, and clear to the judge, that you cannot convict when an expectant mother does this,” he said.

    Martingayle said his client was emotionally distraught at the end of her pregnancy. Family members said the single mother of two had been battling depression for a while.

    “Ask yourself what kind of place somebody would have to be in for this to happen?” Martingayle said. “She’ll be paying the price the rest of her life.”

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  2. dmp
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    dmp Senior Member

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    The world would be better if Martingayle AND that 'mother' were both locked way forever...
     

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