Fetal homicide law used in New Hampshire for first time in murder of mother and child — By: Catholic News Agency

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Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Mar 21, 2024 / 18:30 pm (CNA).

A New Hampshire man was charged with the murder of a pregnant woman and her unborn child, which is the first time the state’s fetal homicide law has ever been invoked.

William Kelly, 38, was charged with second-degree murder on allegations that he recklessly caused the death of 33-year-old Christine Falzone. He also faced another count of second-degree murder on allegations that he recklessly caused the death of her unborn child. 

The indictment from the Carroll County Grand Jury was announced on March 15. 

According to the New Hampshire Department of Justice, Falzone was somewhere between 35 and 37 weeks pregnant at the time of her death, which means she was only a few weeks away from giving birth. Authorities have not disclosed a suspected motive for the alleged murder but noted that Falzone and Kelly lived together. 

The double murder charges present a first-of-its-kind case in New Hampshire. This is the first time any person has been charged under the fetal homicide law enacted in 2018, which allows homicide prosecutions when a third party commits a violent criminal act that causes the death of a preborn child of a woman who is more than 20 weeks pregnant.

In most situations, New Hampshire law does not recognize the rights of preborn children — the state allows abortions through the 24th week of pregnancy. The fetal homicide law only applies when there is a violent criminal action taken by a third party that causes the preborn child’s death — not when a woman procures an abortion or takes an action that causes the death of her preborn child.

According to National Right to Life, 38 states have laws that allow homicide prosecutions when a violent criminal act causes the death of a preborn child. In 30 of those states, this applies at every stage of pregnancy. The other eight, including New Hampshire, only apply in the later stages of pregnancy. 

Falzone was found dead on Dec. 17, 2023, after authorities received a phone call about a woman who was unconscious and not breathing, according to the state’s Department of Justice. An autopsy found that the cause of death was a homicide caused by multiple blunt force injuries. Kelly, who was the immediate suspect in the homicide, was taken into custody.

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