The 24-year-old man charged with murdering a woman who was eight months pregnant with his unborn son, as well as with the killing of her young daughter, is facing another charge that’s new in Maryland: committing a crime of violence against a pregnant woman.
Shiand Miller and her 3-year-old daughter, Shaniya Gilmore, were shot and left in a car in Southwest Baltimore. Their bodies were found Friday afternoon.
Police said Miller was carrying the child of Devon Sample, who was arrested Saturday on multiple criminal charges, including murder, assault and gun charges.
He also faces a charge of committing a crime of violence against a pregnant woman, which has only been a criminal charge on the books in Maryland since last fall.
The felony charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The charge is known as Laura and Reid’s Law, which was passed in 2019 after an effort by lawmakers and the family of Laura Wallen, a pregnant Howard County teacher who was killed in 2017, allegedly by the father of her unborn son. The man who was charged with Wallen’s murder killed himself while awaiting trial in 2018.
Wallen’s family has said she had planned to name the child Reid.
Sen. Justin Ready, a Carroll County Republican who sponsored the bill, said this is the first he’s heard of the crime being charged.
This is the first time that the charge has been used as part of a murder case in Baltimore, according to the office of State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.
A spokeswoman for Mosby declined to comment further on the case, as it is still being investigated and has not yet been presented to a grand jury.
Ready said pregnant women can be particularly vulnerable, especially in situations of intimate partner violence, and merit more consideration in criminal law.
Ready said he felt it was important for prosecutors to have the ability to further punish people who harm or kill pregnant women.
“It’s giving a prosecutor more tools to go after someone who has done something like this,” Ready said.
The first version of the bill that became Laura and Reid’s Law was more stringent than what ultimately passed the Maryland General Assembly and became law.
The 2018 bill would have made it a crime to kill a fetus that had reached at least eight weeks gestation. That’s a significant difference from existing Maryland law on killing a fetus, which allows for charges only when a “viable” fetus is killed, generally considered to be about 24 weeks.
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That version of Laura and Reid’s Law drew opposition from abortion rights organizations. The bill failed in 2018.
When Ready brought it back for another try in 2019, he agreed to work with opponents to revise it. The compromise made it against the law to commit a crime of violence, such as an assault or murder, against a person if the perpetrator knows or believes the victim is pregnant.
Ready said he maintains that it should be illegal for someone to commit an attack on a pregnant woman that ends the life of a fetus.
“If a woman has chosen to have and keep a pregnancy and someone knows that and is knowingly ending that pregnancy without her permission, that is a heinous act. I thought it should be treated as murder,” he said. “We compromised to treat it as another felony.”
Even so, Ready said he was glad to get a form of Laura and Reid’s Law passed. The bill’s final versions were approved during the 2019 General Assembly session with no votes against them.
Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, signed the bill into law last May and it went into effect Oct. 1.
Sample, who was arrested Saturday, did not have an attorney listed in online court records. He was being held Sunday at the Central Booking & Intake Center in Baltimore.