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Man accused of trying to coerce abortion

Associated Press / October 21, 2010

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — A father of six pleaded not guilty yesterday to an attempted murder charge that accuses him of trying to force his girlfriend at gunpoint to have an abortion.

Authorities said Dominic Holt-Reid pointed a handgun at his pregnant girlfriend and forced her to drive to a women’s clinic, where she was able to slip a note to an employee who called police. She was not harmed.

Holt-Reid entered the plea in Franklin County Common Pleas Court and was ordered held on $350,000 bond.

The attempted murder count was filed because Holt-Reid tried “at gunpoint to force her to have an abortion against her will,’’ county prosecutor Ron O’Brien said.

O’Brien said Ohio previously rewrote its murder law to prohibit the “unlawful termination of a pregnancy’’ to avoid a debate over an unborn fetus’s legal rights. The statute allows prosecutors to win convictions on two counts in murder cases in which the victim was pregnant, he said.

Police said Holt-Reid had become angry with Yolanda Burgess because she refused to go through with an abortion scheduled Oct. 6 at a women’s clinic. After the two dropped their 5-year-old child off at school, Holt-Reid took a loaded .45-caliber handgun out of the glove compartment of Burgess’s car, threatened her, and forced her to drive to the clinic, police said.

Convicting Holt-Reid of attempted murder may be difficult because several other steps would have had to take place to end the pregnancy, said Joshua Dressler, an Ohio State University criminal law professor.

“Is this really now attempted murder . . . particularly since he can’t, if you will, pull the trigger?’’ Dressler said. “It’s going to have to be done by someone else.’’

At least 38 states including Ohio have fetal homicide laws increasing penalties for crimes against pregnant women, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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