AG Sides With Defendant on Stillbirth Murder Charge

California woman was charged after an autopsy found meth in her child's system
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2020 3:20 PM CDT
Defendant Gets Support From State's Top Prosecutor
Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed a brief supporting a California murder defendant.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

A woman awaiting trial on a murder charge has received unexpected support from California's top prosecutor. Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed a brief with the court calling for the case against Chelsea Cheyenne Becker to be dropped, CNN reports. Becker gave birth to a stillborn child last September and was charged with murder after an autopsy discovered methamphetamine in her child's system. "Our laws in California do not convict women who suffer the loss of their pregnancy," Becerra said in a statement, "and in our filing today we are making clear that this law has been misused to the detriment of women, children, and families." The Kings County prosecutor said he had no notice that the attorney general was going to intervene. Keith Fagundes said he "can only conclude that he has not been properly briefed on the facts of this case."

The district attorney argued that the prosecution isn't over a stillbirth, "it is a case about a mother's overdose of a late-term viable fetus." The defendant, who lost a bid to have the charges dismissed, has the support of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, per the Los Angeles Times. "It is outrageous that Ms. Becker has been incarcerated since November of 2019 for a nonexistent crime," its executive director said. The ACLU and medical organizations, including American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, joined another brief seeking to have the charges thrown out. The ACLU also endorsed the brief from Becerra, who wrote that the case could "subject all women who suffer a pregnancy loss to the threat of criminal investigation and possible prosecution for murder." (More stillborn stories.)

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