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Keeler v. Superior Court

California Supreme Court
470 P.2d 617 (1970)


Keeler v. Superior Court

Facts

Robert Keeler (defendant) and his wife Teresa Keeler obtained a divorce. At the time of the divorce, Teresa was pregnant with Ernest Vogt’s child. When Robert learned of Teresa’s pregnancy, he told Teresa he would “stomp [the fetus] out of [her]” and physically attacked her. Teresa suffered substantial facial and abdominal injuries. An emergency caesarian section was performed, but the fetus was stillborn with a fractured skull. Medical testimony established that the fetus had been viable before the attack. Robert was charged with assault and the willful infliction of traumatic injury against Teresa, and with the murder of Baby Girl Vogt. Robert filed a petition to the California Supreme Court for a determination of whether an unborn but viable fetus was a human being within the meaning of the California statute defining murder as the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Mosk, J.)

Dissent (Burke, C.J.)

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