6/26/07 -- OKC, OK - Newly elected Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater is not bowing to public pressure and vows to make a drug addict mother take responsibility for the death of her unborn child.
The mother, 30-year old Theresa Lee Hernandez has been incarcerated in the Oklahoma County jail since September of 2004.
Just 6-months earlier, Hernandez had experienced premature labor and gave birth to a stillborn baby boy. Hernandez was 32 weeks pregnant.
The state of Oklahoma, and more importantly D.A. Prater, believe if not for Hernandez's long time drug addiction, her baby would have survived. Because of that claim, Hernandez was charged with first degree murder.
Since Hernandez's arrest, her case has drawn the attention of groups and individuals who feel she should not be prosecuted for murder because she herself is a victim of the drugs that killed her baby. Additionally, many feel that by prosecuting Hernandez, other expectant mothers with drug addictions may not seek medical attention during their pregnancy.
Those critical of Prater's decision to prosecute include, YWCA Oklahoma City chief executive officer Janet Peery, Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma, the American Public Health Association, the Oklahoma chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and the National Advocates for Pregnant Women.
In an article published by the Daily Oklahoman, Prater cautions Hernandez's supporters that they likely do not know the complete history of this case that led to his decision to prosecute.
Prater told the Oklahoman that Hernandez has lost custody of 5 children over the years to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Two of Hernandez's children suffer from developmental disabilities as a result of her drug and alcohol addictions.
Prater says Hernandez has had several opportunities over the years to seek treatment for her methamphetamine addiction, but she choose not to.
Prater told the Oklahoman, "This is the most serious case of child abuse you can imagine, when the child actually dies ... This is clearly a murder, in my opinion.”
Prater says that not prosecuting Hernandez would send the message that his office is unwilling to protect unborn children.
JohnTV.com applauds D.A. Prater's decision to hold the mother responsible and to acknowledge the real victim of this crime - the child - a truly innocent victim of its mother's choices.
This case seems so very clear to JohnTV.com. If the mother knowingly poisoned her child after its birth nobody would protest her prosecution. Why should the exact same action be protected prior to birth?
If our justice system were to allow a mother to avoid prosecution for killing her own baby, because her defense attorney labeled her a victim to addiction, how would we ever support the prosecution of drug addicts when they commit lesser offenses against the community?
Hernandez's criminal history includes larceny and drug possession, but not prostitution. JohnTV.com feels compelled to follow and speak out about this case because so many Oklahoma street prostitutes are addicted to meth. and are often pregnant. The children of these addicts deserve a voice that demands justice - that voice is Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater.