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Name: People v. Valdez & Peraza
Case #: C036614
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/04/2005
Subsequent History: Revw den. 5/11/05

Appellants were convicted of two counts of murder for killing a pregnant woman. Examination of the fetus during the autopsy showed that it suffered a fatal condition which would have prohibited it surviving past the second trimester. On appeal, appellant contended that California’s murder statute does not apply to the killing of a fetus that, even absent criminal intervention, would not have survived until birth due to a fatal condition, and therefore the trial court erred when it excluded evidence that the fetus suffered from such a condition. The appellate court found that the evidence was properly excluded. Under the plain language of the statute, fetuses with terminal conditions are nonetheless fetuses protected from unlawful killing. In light of the state’s interest in protecting fetal life, treating the killing of a fetus with a fatal condition as murder does not violate the cruel and/or unusual punishment clauses of the state and federal Constitutions.