Pregnant Woman Suffered Stillbirth after Defendant Assaulted Her, Defense Argues

Baltimore Courthouse

“He beats the living baby out of her.”

Standing before a 12-person jury, a prosecutor with the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office stressed the seriousness of the case against Rodney Harris, who is charged with assaulting his pregnant girlfriend and killing their unborn child.

Harris is charged with manslaughter and first and second-degree assault.

There are many lessons you learn growing up, he continued, such as not to walk under a ladder or stand under a tree during a thunderstorm.

“The third is you don’t put your hands on a woman,” the prosecutor exclaimed during opening statements on March 14 before Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Jones.

The crime in question occurred on April 4, 2018, when the 30-year-old defendant was having an argument with his girlfriend who was in the shower, the former suggesting she gave him an STD. Harris is also accused of pouring bleach on the victim and trying to drown her.

At some point, the prosecutor continued, Harris allegedly beat his girlfriend with his fists and, wearing a pair of Timberland boots, kicked her in her stomach, causing her to go into premature labor at 26 weeks.

The child was stillborn.

“He has zero respect for his woman and zero respect for his baby,” the prosecutor told the jury. “It’s about power and it’s about control.”

Defense attorney Latoya Francis-Williams did not disagree with the facts that the victim was assaulted nor that the baby was stillborn. However, she insisted there was another narrative at play.

According to her opening statement, the victim was assaulted near Mama Mias pizzeria on the 700 block of N. Broadway. There were multiple assailants, but the woman was unable to identity any of the suspects.

Harris wasn’t near Mama Mias, Francis-Williams noted.

“We don’t know who did this,” she said.

At the conclusion of opening statements, the prosecutor played the 911 call for the jury before proceeding with testimony.

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