A Bakersfield man accused of shooting his pregnant girlfriend and killing their unborn baby five years ago, faced a judge Monday. Justin English is being held on $1,500,000 bail. He was arrested Thursday, five years after he was named a person of interest in the case.
Dressed in a jail t-shirt and shackled at the waist, 27-year-old English pleaded not guilty Monday afternoon to attempted murder and murder of a fetus.
English is accused of shooting his pregnant girlfriend, Paulina Reyes, at the Kern Motor Inn on July 7, 2007, killing their unborn child.
Prosecutors say the shooting left Reyes with permanent injuries. "It's my understanding that the surviving victim of the case is not able to walk as a result of the shooting," said Andrea Kohler, Supervising Deputy District Attorney.
Five years after the shooting, prosecutors charged English with attempted murder for shooting Reyes and murder of a fetus for killing their baby who was due three months after the shooting.
"State law is essentially, once the fetus has progressed past the embryonic stage, which is usually seven to eight weeks at development, a murder case can be initiated against someone who killed that fetus," said Kohler.
Someone can be charged with murder of a fetus even if the person doesn't know the woman is pregnant. "If you commit an act that is inherently dangerous to human life and you do it with conscience disregard and a death results," noted Kohler.
"The law doesn't accuse someone for killing a fetus merely because they don't know the fetus exists," she continued.
In court documents, Sheriff's deputies say Reyes initially said she didn't know who shot her, but later said she had a dream that English was the one who shot her. In a phone call monitored by deputies, Reyes told English she remembered what happened and he told her, "You don't remember nothin'.'"
According to court documents, Reyes told English she had not told detectives what happened, and English told Reyes she should not tell anyone what happened.
English admitted to arguing with Reyes the day she was shot, but denied shooting her. English is scheduled to be back in court August 17th.