BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — An Alabama man has been charged with capital murder for allegedly killing his unborn child while beating his girlfriend.
According to reports, Reginald Sharp, 27, knocked his girlfriend to the ground in a domestic incident last July and then beat her with his fists and a belt. She was 26 weeks (six months) pregnant.
The woman was transported to St. Vincent’s Hospital, where her baby was stillborn the next day. The county coroner listed the child’s death as “intrauterine fetal demise due to compression of mother’s abdomen during an assault.”
Sharp was arrested in August, and was initially charged with assault, but last month, a grand jury indicted him of capital murder, as well as extreme indifference in committing the crime. His bond is now set at $300,000.
Defense attorney Roger Appell told local television station WALB that there are 38 states with laws pertaining to fetal homicide, but capital murder charges are rare.
As previously reported, in December, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that a woman’s wrongful death lawsuit against an OB/GYN accused of contributing to the death of her unborn child may proceed. It declared that unborn children are human beings whether or not at the point of viability and therefore are entitled to legal protection.
The court largely based its decision on an amendment in Alabama’s Homicide Act, which “changed the definition of a ‘person’ who could be a victim of homicide to include ‘an unborn child in utero at any stage of development, regardless of viability.”
“Unborn children, whether they have reached the ability to survive outside their mother’s womb or not, are human beings and thus persons entitled to the protections of the law—both civil and criminal,” also read a concurrence from Justice Thomas Parker. “It should be all the more intolerable in Alabama, where the express, emphatic public policy of our state is to uphold the value of unborn life.”
“Members of the judicial branch of Alabama should do all within their power to dutifully ensure that the laws of Alabama are applied equally to protect the most vulnerable members of our society, both born and unborn,” he said.