Last Friday, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Greta Curtis Fall sentenced a 32-year-old man to 50-years-to-life imprisonment for killing his girlfriend’s unborn baby by stabbing her in the stomach with a 13-inch butcher knife.
On December 31, 2006, Danny Ray Poplin Jr. attacked his girlfriend, Vanessa Roberts, thinking that her six-month old unborn child was the child of another man. DNA tests later confirmed the child was his own. He will serve the sentence for murder only after serving 12 years for injury and assault.
“The jury spoke,” said Deputy District Attorney Noah Phillips. “It was the appropriate sentence.”
Poplin had been convicted of domestic violence three times prior to this assault; in each case he had beaten Roberts. A 1996 guilty plea in a first-degree burglary case doubled the sentence he received for this murder, from 25 to 50 years.
California is one of more than two dozen states that have fetal homicide laws. California’s statute was enacted in 1970 after the murder of an eight-month old unborn baby. Prosecutors were unable to charge the perpetrator with murder, and public resulted in a change to the law to include the murder of unborn children.