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Ark. Man Convicted in Fetus Death

February 9, 2001

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ A jury convicted a man Thursday of capital murder for hiring others to beat his pregnant girlfriend and kill her fetus.

Erik Bullock, 30, received an automatic sentence of life in prison because prosecutors did not seek the death penalty. He also was convicted of first-degree battery, which carries a 20-year sentence.

The case was the first brought under Arkansas’ Fetal Protection Act. The 1999 law allows murder charges if a fetus in at least the 12th week of gestation dies as the result of a violent crime.

Derrick Witherspoon, 18, and Lonnie Beulah, 17, who are accused of beating Shiwona Pace, are awaiting trial on capital murder charges. Their brother, Eric Beulah, 22, is serving a 40-year prison sentence.

In closing arguments, prosecutors told jurors that Bullock was a controlling man who feared Pace’s pregnancy would disrupt his relationship with another woman. They said Bullock paid the men $400 _ total _ to beat Pace.

``This defendant was a selfish person who was afraid one railroad track was going to cross into another. He hired those guys to ... beat up that little girl’s mother so that she would not mess up his life,″ said prosecutor John Johnson.

The nearly full-term fetus was stillborn Aug. 26, 1999, after Pace was taken to an emergency room with a lacerated spleen, fractured wrist, broken finger and numerous bruises and cuts.

DNA tests later showed that Bullock was not the father of the infant.

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