A state appeals court Monday upheld the second-degree murder conviction of a Jacksonville woman who shot a pregnant woman in the abdomen during a dispute in 2014 and fatally wounded the fetus.
Virginia Denise Wyche, now 39, argued that her second-degree murder conviction should be tossed out because an unborn child is not a human being under Florida's homicide law, according to the ruling by a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal. But the panel rejected Wyche's arguments, pointing to changes made by lawmakers in recent years.
An eight-page main opinion, written by Judge Joseph Lewis and joined by Chief Judge Brad Thomas and Judge Lori Rowe, said the “Legislature has expressed a clear intent to recognize an unborn quick child as a human being entitled to the protection of Florida's homicide statute.”
A concurring opinion by Rowe said that Wyche shot Markeisha Brooks with a .22-caliber revolver during a dispute that started about a Facebook post. Brooks was in her 25th or 26th week of pregnancy.
“Brooks survived the bullet wound, but her unborn child did not,” Rowe wrote. “The bullet entered the child's abdomen and exited near the child's right shoulder. Brooks testified at trial that after the bullet entered her womb, she felt the last movements of her child as the child died.” Along with being convicted of second-degree murder, Wyche was convicted of attempted second-degree murder.