MOBILE, Ala. (AP) Supporters of Alabama's new legislation that recognizes two victims instead of one when a pregnant woman is assaulted or killed say it gives the unborn a voice.
A Citronelle couple, Tim and Sharon Helveston, were among families who successfully pushed the Alabama Legislature to approve the bill, which Gov. Bob Riley signed into law on Monday.
The Helvestons became victim activists after the 2002 car crash death of their daughter, Wendy Sullivan, a nurse and mother of two young girls who was pregnant with another girl, who died.
Riley met Friday with the Helvestons and two other families in Mobile. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Spencer Collier, R-Bayou La Batre, and several other area legislators attended the ceremony at Mobile's convention center.
The bill is called the "Brody Act" in memory of the unborn son of 23-year-old Brandy Parker of Albertville. Parker was eight months pregnant when she was shot and killed on July 27, 2005.
The legislation will go into effect July 1 and can't be used retroactively.
"Our family can't benefit from it, but it will help future children," Tim Helveston said. "It speaks for them. It's like they didn't exist."
A drunken driver struck his daughter's van as she arrived at Providence Hospital for work as a nurse. Sullivan and the fetus, Krimson Rose Sullivan, died. A Grand Bay man was later convicted of criminally negligent homicide.
Collier, a state trooper, said a person arrested in a pregnant woman's death and the death of her unborn child can now be charged with a double murder, manslaughter or negligent homicide.
"Nicole is happy looking down from heaven," said Alexis Castillo, holding his 2-year-old daughter.
Castillo's pregnant wife and her unborn son died in a head-on collision in Mobile last month. Roger Moseley was arrested and charged March 15 with vehicular homicide in the death of Michelle "Nicole" Castillo, 33.
A teary-eyed Keri Roberts of Mobile, who campaigned for the new law for five years, said, "It was a very long time, but there's justice at the end." Roberts and her mother, Cynthia Doughty of Semmes, embraced the governor.
Roberts was eight months pregnant when she was hit by vehicle in 2001. She was seriously injured, and her unborn daughter, Victoria Lynn Angle, died. No one was ever prosecuted in the incident.
Riley said the legislation should have been approved "a long time ago."
Alabama has been one of 18 states without a law recognizing two victims instead of one when a pregnant woman is assaulted or killed.
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