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Associated Press/Photo by Ed Andrieski

Death toll rises

Shooting | But no charges allowed under Colorado law for miscarriage after shooting rampage

AURORA, Colo.-Ashley Moser, who was shot in the neck and abdomen at the Aurora theater shooting July 20, miscarried her baby on Saturday due to the trauma and is now paralyzed from the waist down, her family reported. It was the second child Moser lost at the hands of the gunman: Her 6-year-old daughter, Veronica, also died in the shooting.
In 35 states, authorities would add a murder charge for the man accused of killing 12 people and injuring another 58 at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. But Colorado has no law to protect unborn children who are victims of a crime.
In December 2010, Laura Gorham experienced a similar tragedy when she was the victim of a hit-and-run in Denver's Stapleton neighborhood. Gorham, 27 years old at the time, was 34 weeks pregnant when a car hit her as she used a crosswalk, and consequently lost her baby. The driver was never found. The story made Colorado headlines in part because a 34-week-old child in utero is viable and yet, even if the driver had been arrested, no charges on behalf of the unborn child could have been filed.
This past January, Colorado state lawmaker Janak Josh, a Republican from Colorado Springs, introduced House Bill 12-1130, titled First Degree Murder of Unborn Child. According to the bills summary, "if a crime is committed and it is the proximate cause of death or injury to an unborn member of the species homo sapiens, the perpetrator may be charged for the death or assault of the unborn child."
Critics of the bill said it conferred "personhood status" on unborn children, an idea Colorado voters have twice rejected, and would criminalize abortion. However, the bill exempted from prosecution "medical care for which the mother provided consent." Translation: elective abortion is off the hook. After contentious debate, lawmakers passed the bill and sent it to the Senate, where in April the Democratically-controlled Judiciary Committee postponed it-indefinitely.

On Monday the alleged shooter, James Eagan Holmes, 24, made his second courtroom appearance, where he was formally charged with 24 counts of murder and 116 counts of attempted murder in the July 20 shooting rampage.

Prosecutors are pursuing double charges for each of the victims-one for committing the crimes after deliberation and one for committing them with "extreme indifference," according to the Denver Post. Denver attorney Daniel Recht told the paper that the different counts are an advantage to prosecutors because if a jury were to acquit Holmes under one theory, it could still convict him under the other.

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With dozens of shooting survivors and their families looking on, Holmes appeared more alert and engaged in the courtroom than in a July 23 court appearance, where cameras showed a dazed and confused alleged gunman. (The court did not allow cameras to record Monday's proceeding.)

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Aug. 9, when the judge will hear testimony on whether there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial.

Sarah Padbury
Sarah Padbury

Sarah is a writer, editor, and adoption advocate. She and her husband live with their six teenagers in Castle Rock, Colo.

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