A man accused of fatally shooting the mother of his unborn child in a Baltimore County parking lot last month will face two murder charges, one in the woman's death and one in the fetus' death, marking the first prosecution under the state's fetal homicide law.
David L. Miller, 24, was indicted on two counts of first-degree murder by a Baltimore County grand jury yesterday in the death of Elizabeth Walters, 24, and her unborn child, Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger said.
"It really comes down to intent to kill and some evidence that there was knowledge that the fetus would die," Shellenberger said, adding that he planned to prosecute the case himself.
Miller, who is married to another woman, is accused of shooting Walters, a waitress at a popular Charles Village night spot, and her longtime friend, Heather Lowe, 24, as they sat in a car in the parking lot of the Parkway Crossing shopping center in Hillendale on the morning of June 11.
Lowe survived being shot in the face and told police that Miller was the gunman before being taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, according to charging documents. Surveillance tapes show Miller's wife's car was in the parking lot at the time of the shooting and cell phone records indicate that Miller and Walters exchanged calls that morning, according to the documents.
Miller surrendered the day after the shooting and was charged by police with one count of first-degree murder in Walters' death.
In addition to the two murder charges, the grand jury yesterday indicted Miller on charges of first-degree assault and attempted murder in Lowe's shooting, as well as two handgun offenses, Shellenberger said.
Miller plans to plead not guilty to the charges, according to his lawyer, James R. Dills.
"We're fairly certain that when all the smoke settles, Mr. Miller is going to be exonerated," Dills said.
Under a law enacted in October 2005, a person who kills a woman who is pregnant with a viable fetus can be charged with a double homicide.
"We received our report from the medical examiner, and included in that report were sufficient facts to lead us to believe that the fetus was viable," Shellenberger said, adding that the length, weight and stage of development indicate that the fetus could have survived outside the womb.
He said the Maryland law has not previously been used in a prosecution.
Family members have said that Walters was seven months pregnant at the time of her death, and the state's chief medical examiner, Dr. David Fowler, has said that a fetus is generally considered viable at seven months.
Walters' mother said that her family was glad to hear that Miller had been charged with murder in the deaths of the woman and her unborn child.
"Our prayer was that he would be charged with both murders," said Vivian Walters of Rosedale, adding that she and her husband have struggled to explain their daughter's death to their three young sons.
Friends and co-workers at the Charles Village Pub said that Walters was eagerly awaiting the birth of her child, a girl, in August. She kept child-rearing books behind the bar, and friends had been planning a baby shower for her.
"My daughter chose life for that baby," Vivian Walters said, adding that her daughter had enlisted a network of friends and family to help her care for the child.
The morning that she was killed, Elizabeth Walters was meeting with Miller to see what role he wanted to play in the child's life, her mother said.
"If he didn't want to help out, she was prepared to raise the baby on her own," Vivian Walters said.
"She would not have wanted all the publicity that's going to surround this," Vivian Walters said of her daughter. "But she also would want to pave the way for any other women who are in the same position. If she could have helped other women, she would have chosen to do that."