A judge Thursday granted a defense motion to exclude from the trial of a man charged with killing a pregnant woman the fact that the child she delivered just before she died was severely brain-damaged.
Third District Judge Raymond Uno said that the prejudicial effect of such evidence outweighed any material benefit it might provide the prosecution. The judge also granted a motion to allow psychological testimony on the effect of drugs and alcohol on the defendant, Charles Kenneth McCovey.McCovey, 44, also known as Charles Kenneth Hodges, is charged with first-degree murder in the April 22 shooting death of Anna Holmes, 31, West Valley City, during a robbery of a Kearns video store. She was shot once after the robber grabbed her and held a gun to her head as two of her children looked on.
Holmes, who was eight months pregnant, died moments after doctors delivered her daughter by Caesarean section. The fact the child was brain-damaged was only revealed in court Wednesday when defense lawyer Andrew Valdez made his motions.
"If this was admitted, this would highly prejudice my client's right to a fair trial and guarantee him the death penalty," Valdez argued.
Uno said it was likely his ruling would be reviewed in higher courts. "This is one of those cases where the Supreme Court will decide whether I am right or wrong," he said.
Valdez said that to show the child's condition to the jury would be inflammatory. He said his client would admit that he shot Holmes in the head, but would maintain the weapon discharged accidentally.
Prosecutor Ernie Jones said the jury should be told the whole story about the shooting.
"There was one bullet fired. I don't know how you can separate Anna Holmes from the fetus. The jury has the right to know the effect this had not only on Anna Holmes, but on the child," Jones said.
The prosecutor said the doctor who examined Holmes would testify that "all her functioning systems shut down" when she was shot.
"The jury is entitled to know the entire picture and the extent of the wound," he said.