Senator Bruce Starr: Revised Bill Protects Pregnant Women

Senator Starr Introduces New Bill Today
By State Senator Bruce Starr,

(Salem) New legislation was introduced today by State Senator Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro) to protect pregnant women in Oregon. “This is designed to send a strong message to perpetrators that commit this type of horrific crime,” said Starr referring to the murder of 21-year old Heather Snively in Beaverton on June 5th. Snively was eight months pregnant. Investigators say the baby was cut from the womb.

House Bill 3505 is a revision of an earlier measure proposed by Starr last week. The new bill establishes that knowingly assaulting or killing a pregnant woman falls under the category of aggravated murder. “By elevating this crime of maternal homicide to aggravated murder it carries the death penalty or life in prison for the maximum penalty,” explained Senator Bruce Starr.

The defendant in the case, 27-year old Korena Roberts, is currently charged with murder but action by a Washington County grand jury and the District Attorney may lead to additional charges. Washington County DA Bob Hermann is prosecuting the Roberts case. He said, “this legislation would provide long needed law that recognizes the seriousness of an assault of a pregnant woman and provides appropriate sanctions for the crime.”

“The current aggravated murder law includes court employees and victims under 14 among others,” noted Starr. “I would argue pregnant women are certainly very vulnerable and need a special level of protection.”

HB 3505 was introduced today “at the request of Chris Popp in memory of John Stephen Popp and Heather Shively.” Chris Popp is Shively’s boyfriend and the unborn child’s name was John Stephen Popp.

“Someone has to protect babies and mothers from this horrendous crime,” said Chris Popp. “Hopefully this legislation sponsored by Senator Starr will deter similar crimes from happening to other families. No one should ever have to experience the loss we have. Losing not only one, but two family members makes this an aggravated crime.”

The first legislation Starr drafted would have given DA’s the ability to prosecute for murder, manslaughter, or criminally negligent homicide for the death of an unborn child. If the infant didn’t draw a breath, it does not meet the legal muster for a second murder charge under current law. In addition to changes in the aggravated murder statute, HB 3505 also increases this type of assault to a first degree crime with a maximum 20-year sentence and $375,000 penalty. The Oregon District Attorneys Association and other groups supported similar legislation in 2005.