By Luanne Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
February 4, 2013
CHARLOTTE – A 23-year-old Mecklenburg County man who pleaded guilty to killing a pregnant co-worker a year ago was sentenced to two life sentences late last month for the double murder in the first conviction under the state’s Unborn Victims of Violence Law.
“When Ethen’s Law was passed, we expressed hope that it would never come into play, that there would not be another murder of a pregnant woman and her child in the state,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “But we’re glad to see that when such a horrific crime occurs, the law is being applied and the death of a precious child is being recognized for what it is — murder.”
Passed in the spring of 2011 and modeled after the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act (Laci and Conner’s Law), Ethen’s Law took effect in December 2011. Weeks later, prosecutors say Mark Anthony Cox, recently released from prison for robbery with a dangerous weapon and a new employee at the Flying Biscuit, attacked Danielle Watson, the restaurant’s manager, with a butcher knife, stabbing her multiple times before leaving her body behind a nearby Dumpster.
He took Watson’s car and more than $2,500 from the business and was apprehended days later in the Fayetteville area, police reports show.
Watson was about eight weeks pregnant when she was murdered.
At least 36 states now offer protections for the unborn similar to Ethen’s Law. North Carolina’s statute, which covers babies from conception and does not require prior knowledge of the pregnancy on the part of the perpetrator, was named after Ethen Nielsen, whose mother, Jenna, was murdered in the summer of 2007 just a few weeks before her due date. That crime has never been solved.
Before Ethen’s law was passed there was nothing in North Carolina statutes that acknowledged the existence or humanity of the unborn child.