Nevada County authorities charge man with murder in connection with fetus’ death
A man who already was facing a domestic violence felony accusation now has been charged with the murder of a fetus in connection with a February assault, authorities said.
Mark James Yeager, 43, was arrested after the victim called law enforcement on Feb. 17 to report he attacked her, Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh said.
Yeager initially was charged with domestic violence causing bodily injury to his ex-girlfriend, and has been in custody since early March on a $500,000 bond, Walsh said.
“This was an unusual investigation,” he said. “We were aware that immediately after the domestic violence … the victim suffered a miscarriage and she lost her baby.”
The victim was renting a room in a house in Cascade Shores, Walsh said.
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“She was not living with her ex-boyfriend. She was trying to get away from him due to issues including drug use,” he said.
On Feb. 17, Yeager broke into the house, knowing she was there, Walsh said.
“He assaulted her, he wanted money,” he said. “He was strangling her and at one point he violently picked her up and threw her down.”
According to Walsh, the victim, who was 17 weeks pregnant, went into labor and gave birth to a live fetus the next day.
“The baby did die,” he said. “We strongly suspected the domestic violence had something to do with that.”
Walsh said his office continued to investigate, contacting an expert in forensic obstetrics to review the medical records. The expert reviewed records not just from the incident but from before as well, Walsh said, to show it was a “healthy, normal pregnancy until that point.”
After the expert found the domestic violence was the “proximate cause” of the miscarriage, Walsh said he filed an amended complaint adding a count of felony murder of a human fetus.
“It’s a horrific domestic violence case from our standpoint,” he said. “There is a (state) law specifically designed for this situation, if the incident causes the death of a fetus.”
Murder of a fetus is a second-degree charge that carries a potential sentence of 15 years to life, Walsh said. He said he will ask for a bond increase when Yeager returns to Nevada County Superior Court on June 18.
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