Colorado Baby’s Death could bring Additional Murder Charge

Mesa County prosecutors are considering additional charges against Lonnie Herrera, who is accused of fatally shooting his pregnant girlfriend, Anna Maria Macias, now that the baby she was carrying has died. Anna Maria Macias, who was about 8 1/2 months pregnant, was killed on Sunday night when she was shot in the neck. A baby girl, the family named Maria, born by caesarean section at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, died overnight when she was removed from life support.

Formal charges will likely be filed against Herrera, who is being held on a $2 million bond for suspicion of murder, said Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger. “It is certainly going to be first-degree murder in relation to the mother,” continures Hautzinger. “If the coroner rules the baby’s death is a homicide, I anticipate we will be filing charges on that, as well.” An autopsy report is expected this week.

Hautzinger recently filed charges in a similar infant-death case. On November 6, 2007, Logan Lage was leading Colorado State Patrol on a high speed chase when he crashed head on into Shea Lenen’s SUV. She was eight and a half months pregnant when her baby was delivered by an emergency c-section. The baby she named Lileigh lived for about an hour before she died.

The Mesa County coroner’s office ruled in November that the death of 26-year-old Shea Lehnen’s newborn girl was a homicide. Baby Lileigh died of asphyxia because the crash damaged her placenta and limited blood flow to the fetus.

Although a judge ruled Lage could not be charged with the murder of baby Lileigh, prosecutors are appealing the judge’s ruling. Should the coroner make a similar finding in the case of baby Maria, prosecutors will seek additional changes against Herrera, as they did in Lage’s case.

“Our position is both of these babies were alive at the time of the homicidal act,” says Hutzinger. “They were just in utero.’

Now, more than ever is the time for Colorado to join the 25 states that have enacted fetal protections laws, and 10 additional states that have partial fetal protection laws. How many more killers will get away with murdering babies because of a loophole in the law?