Hanford

Kings Co. DA pushes back on Becerra: stillbirth from meth exposure is murder

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra took the unusual step of weighing in on the appeal of a Kings County woman charged with murder following a stillbirth of her baby with toxic levels of methamphetamine in its system.

Now, Kings County prosecutors are pushing back.

Becerra filed an amicus curiae – or “friend of the court” – brief with the Fresno-based Fifth District Court of Appeal arguing that the Kings County District Attorney’s office “misapplied and misinterpreted” the murder statute, Penal Code 187, in charging Becker with the drug-connected stillbirth.

The code section, Becerra said in a press release, “was intended to protect pregnant women from harm, not charge them with murder.”

Becerra added that he was “committed to seeing Ms. Becker released from jail with the charges against her dropped.”

Incidentally, Becker previously sought motion to dismiss on the same grounds of misinterpretation of the murder statute pushed by Becerra.

The argument was ultimately rejected by a Kings County judge and the motion denied.

Officials with Kings County District Attorney Keith Fagundes returned fire on Becerra.

“It’s disappointing that (Becerra) would put out such a strong statement without first consulting our office and getting all the true facts,” Phil Esbenshade, executive assistant district attorney, told Gannett.

Becker remains in Kings County Jail on $2 million bail.

Alex Tavlian
Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.