Donald Willis, the first person charged in North Carolina with killing an unborn child in a drunk driving accident appeared before a judge this morning.
Willis faces about 40 years in prison as the result of a change in the law that allows prosecution under the state\’s murder charges, but faces even more time than that if he\’s found guilty of DWI and felony serious injury charges in the accident.
Marion police say the 53-year-old suspect was intoxicated when he crossed the center line of Seagle Street, and totaled the car driven by 18-year-old Emily Dalton. Her unborn baby died last week.
Prosecutors say Dalton is still in the hospital, but improving.
They say this case will work it’s way through the courts as any other and will be the first test of a law aimed at prosecuting reckless behavior in the death of an unborn child.
Brad Greenway, district attorney, “an act done so recklessly and carelessly that it\’s inherently dangerous to life, would be the murder of an unborn child. So I suppose if you were involved in a motor vehicle race, speed competition, you could also be charged under this statute.”
Willis is scheduled for a probable cause hearing January 29th. He is currently being held in the McDowell County jail.