Samuel Demetrious Ambrose was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison for some pretty heinous actions:
Allegan County Circuit Court Judge Kevin W. Cronin sentenced Ambrose to a minimum of four years in prison for the May 2014 assault and witness intimidation. His sentence was lengthened because the judge counted the woman’s unborn child as a second victim.
"I can’t remember when I've been so appalled at a defendant's behavior of what – what cruelty, what total disregard for human life and decency there was in this particular incident," Cronin said at sentencing. He compared the assault to water-boarding.
The trial court ruled that Ambrose harmed two victims, classifying the mother's unborn child as a victim. Ambrose challenged the terms of his sentence; his lawyer argued that the unborn child should not be counted as a second victim because the child is not a "person."
On October 26 the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the child can be considered a victim, because Michigan's law clearly refers to "victims," not "persons," and based on our state's Prenatal Protection Act, the Legislature clearly intended unborn children to be counted as potential victims of a crime. Ambrose's enhanced sentence of 32 to 48 months in prison for felonious assault will stand.
Michigan updated protections for unborn children by passing the Prenatal Protection Act in 1999. Previously the child had to be born alive and then die in order to be counted as a victim of a crime committed while the child was in the womb. The born-alive rule was necessary as a matter of evidence before the advent of ultrasound, because the only way to know a child in the womb was alive at any point (and harmed by the criminal action) was the mother reporting her experience of the baby moving. Thanks to modern medicine, documenting the life of the child in the womb is easy and undeniable.