Ohio man faces 20 years in abortion-gunpoint case

June 9, 2011 - 1:53 AM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A man charged under an Ohio fetal homicide law for taking his pregnant girlfriend to an abortion clinic at gunpoint faces 20 years in prison when a judge sentences him Thursday.

Dominic Holt-Reid, 28, pleaded guilty in April to attempted murder, weapons and abduction counts after police say he pulled a gun Oct. 6 on girlfriend Yolanda Burgess and forced her to drive to the clinic.

Burgess, who was who was three months pregnant and 26 years old at the time, did not go through with the procedure but instead passed a note to a clinic employee, who called police. She has since delivered a healthy baby.

Prosecutors brought their case against Holt-Reid using a 1996 law that says a person can be found guilty of murder for causing the unlawful termination of a pregnancy.

Under the plea deal reached with Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien, Holt-Reid also faces a $40,000 fine. Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Patrick Sheeran planned to sentence Holt-Reid Thursday.

Holt-Reid's attorney, Larry Shoemaker, has said he plans to argue that Holt-Reid's actions did not risk Burgess' unborn child and so are distinguished from murder cases O'Brien has argued under the statute in the past.

Shoemaker said he'll push for a sentence of closer to three years rather than the 20-year maximum.

Shoemaker described his client as remorseful and overwhelmed. He said Holt-Reid has not spoken to Burgess since October, but he believes the two intend to continue their relationship.

The Ohio fetal homicide law and statues like it in other states have typically been used to win convictions in car crashes in which a pregnant woman died and in cases involving attacks on expectant mothers. Legal experts have said they were unfamiliar with such a law being cited in a case similar to Holt-Reid's.

O'Brien said he was comfortable using the fetal homicide statute against Holt-Reid, because Holt-Reid's intention was to end Burgess' pregnancy.