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Fetus Death Brings Murder Conviction

Pennsylvania woman is found guilty in an attack on a pregnant adversary.

March 27, 2003|From Associated Press

ERIE, Pa. — A woman was convicted Wednesday of third-degree murder for kicking a pregnant romantic rival in the abdomen and killing the fetus she was carrying.

Corinne Wilcott, 21, wept as the jury's verdict was announced. She also was convicted of assault and making terroristic threats in the attack on Sheena Carson, which resulted in the death of Carson's fetus.

Wilcott, who is set to be sentenced May 6, faces 20 to 40 years in prison on the murder charge. She could be sentenced to up to 67 years with the addition of the other charges.

She was convicted under Pennsylvania's rarely used fetal homicide law. After about eight hours of deliberations that began Tuesday, jurors rejected a first-degree murder charge carrying a maximum life term.

Prosecutors said Wilcott attacked Carson, 19, after a party because she was carrying a child conceived with Wilcott's husband, Kareem. Carson said Wilcott dragged her to the ground by her hair, punching and kicking her repeatedly.

She told police that during the attack, Wilcott yelled, "I told you I was going to get you for sleeping with Kareem." Wilcott also yelled during the attack that she hoped the fetus died, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Erie County's forensic pathologist ruled that the 15- to 17-week-old fetus died because of a blow to Carson's abdomen.

"Sheena Carson chose to have that baby. Corinne Wilcott took away that choice," prosecutor Jack Daneri told jurors Tuesday.

Defense attorney Tim Lucas said an expert he had hired found that the fetus died from an infection.

Lucas also questioned whether Carson was kicked. "There was no bruising, no marks, nothing," he said.

Pennsylvania is one of more than two dozen states that have fetal homicide laws. Attorneys say the state's law has been rarely used since it went into effect in 1999.

Lucas said he planned to appeal on several issues, including the constitutionality of the fetal homicide law. An earlier attempt to have the charge thrown out on that basis failed.

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