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Pregnant Alabama Woman and Newborn Both Die at Hospital After Shooting. Her Husband Is Now Charged with Double Homicide.

Hunter James Tatum courtesy of the Autauga County Sheriff's Office

Hunter James Tatum courtesy of the Autauga County Sheriff’s Office

An Alabama man was arrested after police say he shot his pregnant wife and unborn child, both of whom later died at the hospital.

Officers with the Prattville Police Department responded to a report about a gun being fired early Monday morning at a home located in the 800 block of Sunset Court where an expecting married couple lived, local newspaper the Montgomery Advertiser reported. Upon arriving at the scene just after midnight, first-responders reportedly found a pregnant woman who was unresponsive and bleeding from an apparent gunshot wound. Emergency medical personnel rushed the woman—whose name was not released to the public—to a Baptist South Hospital in Montgomery where she was said to be in critical condition and placed on life support.

Chief Assistant District Attorney C.J. Robinson confirmed to the Advertiser that doctors at the hospital were able to deliver the baby alive Monday. The child was placed in the facility’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) but did not survive the day. The child’s mother died soon after her baby was delivered. It was not immediately clear how far along the pregnancy was prior to the shooting.

Under Alabama Code § 13A-6-1, “an unborn child in utero at any stage of development, regardless of viability” is considered a person when their life is ended in a criminal homicide.

Prattville Chief of Police Mark Thompson said that officers arrested the woman’s husband, 25-year-old Hunter James Tatum, who had remained at the scene after he allegedly shot his wife and unborn child.

As of Monday, prosecutors had only charged Tatum under the statute “assault domestic violence,” but Chief Thompson said that charge will be upgraded and Tatum will face two counts of murder. Robinson noted that the murder charges may be further be upgraded to two counts of capital murder after prosecutors present the case to a grand jury.

Under Alabama state law, murder charges can be upgraded to capital murder if the killing takes place during the commission of certain other violent crimes, if a law enforcement official is killed, if two or more people are killed in the course of a defendant’s conduct, or if the victim is a child under the age of 14.

“We still need to see the forensics and autopsy results,” Robinson told the Advertiser. “But capital murder charges are definitely on the table. We stand ready to speak for these two victims.”

Authorities said that a motive for Tatum killing his wife and child was not immediately clear but that detectives were continuing to investigate the events that led to the tragic killings, according to a report from Montgomery NBC affiliate WSFA-TV.

The Prattville Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to emails from Law&Crime seeking additional details on the case and charges against Tatum.

Tatum is currently being held at the Autauga County Jail where a judge initially set his bond at $150,000. However, due to the subsequent deaths of his wife and child, Tatum’s bond is expected to be significantly increased or revoked in the near future.

Another Alabama man earlier this month, Christopher Henderson, was sentenced to death after being found guilty on 15 counts of capital murder for killing his pregnant wife and three children.

[image via Autauga County Sheriff’s Office]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.