RIO LINDA (CBS13) — A lingering question surrounding the suspected DUI crash that sent a pregnant woman to the hospital is: will the driver be held responsible for the death of premature baby RJ?
The driver, Ronnie Ward, has been charged with two counts of DUI and driving on a suspended license. But the District Attorney confirmed Friday that he will not be charged with vehicular manslaughter, even though the crash killed baby RJ.
California law defines murder as a killing of a human being or a fetus, but for murder, there has to be proven malice or intent. For manslaughter, a killing without malice, the law does not include a fetus, only a human being.
This case would be considered vehicular manslaughter because they could not prove intent. The DA’s office said, “The legislature intentionally failed to include (the term fetus) thus, the death of a fetus is not covered in the definition of vehicular manslaughter.
In other words, Ward would have had to intentionally kill the baby in order to be charged in RJ’s death.
There are at least seven states that do consider a fetus a person under manslaughter laws. California is not one of them.