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Family members of murder victims spoke to a Chapel Hill crowd in support of proposed legislation that would recognize unborn children as victims in homicide cases.

Kevin Blaine, whose pregnant daughter, Jenna Nielsen, was stabbed to death behind a Raleigh convenience store in 2007, said he has been fighting for such legislation for years.

If Nielsen’s killer was caught, he would be charged with one count of murder – not two.

North Carolina law does not consider the death of an unborn child in a murder case to be a separate homicide. House Bill 890 would have allowed the state to prosecute for murder in cases where the child dies as a result of an attack on the mother. However, the bill never made it out of judiciary committee.

Families of victims at the gathering, however, said the legislation is about criminal justice.

Effie Steele’s 21-year-old daughter, Ebony Robinson, was expected to give birth within weeks to her son, Elijah, when her boyfriend shot and killed her in 2007.

Michele Dye, whose pregnant daughter, Lucy Johnston, was shot to death last year in Gaston County, also spoke at the gathering, held at the Chapel Hill Public Library at 100 Library Drive.

At least 36 states nationwide recognize an unborn child as a second victim, according to the John W. Pope Civitas Institute, a conservative public policy advocate.


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