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Lawmakers debate stiffer prosecution of manslaughter for all unborn children; legislation named after Olney resident Laura Wallen –

by Terri Hogan

Senior Staff Writer

Maryland lawmakers have introduced legislation that would stiffen the prosecution for the manslaughter death of unborn children at any stage of development, and are doing so in memory of Olney resident Laura Wallen, who was pregnant when she was killed in September.

At the time of her death, Wallen, 31, a popular high school teacher in Howard County, was about four months pregnant and would have named the baby Reid.

Autopsy results showed that she had been shot in the back of her head.

Her boyfriend, Tyler Tessier, 33, of Damascus was indicted in October on one count of murder in connection to her death. He is believed to be the father of Wallen’s baby, according to Montgomery County Police.

At the indictment, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said there would be no charges in the death of the unborn child.

“Based on medical testimony, the child was not viable independent of Ms. Wallen,” he said. “Based on those medical findings and as a matter of law in Maryland, as a result, the defendant is not chargeable with a second count of murder related to the child.”

Sen. Justin Ready (R-Dist. 5) of Carroll County and Del. Trent Kittleman (R-Dist. 9A) of Carroll and Howard counties introduced Laura and Reid’s Law on Jan. 29. If passed, the law would change the prosecution of manslaughter to include the murder of an unborn child at any stage of development.

According to information provided by Ready’s office, The American College of OB/GYNs published a report in 2010, showing homicides were the leading cause of death during pregnancy and the first postpartum year.

Data provided shows that homicide is the leading cause of pregnancy-associated death in Maryland, with firearms being the most common method of injury at 60 percent.

A press release from Ready’s office states that the bill in no way infringes on a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.

Wallen’s death shocked the community when her body was found in a shallow grave on the afternoon of Sept. 13 in Damascus.

She was reported missing when she did not report for the first day of school on Sept. 5. She had last contacted her family the day before, on Labor Day.

Police found her unoccupied vehicle a few days later in an apartment complex in the 10600 block of Gramercy

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