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House OKs feticide bill, sends back to Senate

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Legislation that would increase the penalty for fetal homicide has made it through the Indiana House of Representatives, and now must go back for approval in the Senate where it originated since some changes were made.

On Monday, the House voted 96-0 in support of Senate Bill 236, which would apply to fetuses at any stage of development and enhance the feticide penalty from the current two- to six-year term, to a six- to 20-year penalty. It would also allow an additional six to 20 years of prison time to be added for anyone convicted of murder or attempted murder if they cause pregnancy loss, boosting the feticide penalty from a Class C to a Class B felony.

The only amendment replaced references to the death of a child in utero with new language referring to the termination of a human pregnancy, matching existing language in the state's feticide law. The Senate had passed the bill by a 40-9 vote on Feb. 25, and will now reconsider it with the new language.

Lawmakers leading the effort were Sen. James Merritt and Rep. Mike Murphy, both R-Indianapolis, and Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond. The legislation comes in response to an Indianapolis shooting in April 2008, when a pregnant bank teller was shot in the abdomen and later lost the twin girls she'd been carrying for about six months. One was stillborn, and the other died about five hours after the premature birth.

Current law only allows murder charges to be filed if a fetus has reached "viability," or about seven months. Approximately 37 states have feticide laws and about 18 of those consider the killing of a fetus at any stage to be murder, Merritt noted.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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