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Five months after Laura Wallen, a pregnant teacher at Wilde Lake High School, was murdered, her parents find themselves in a place, they say, they never imagined — lobbying lawmakers Wednesday in Annapolis.
“My daughter would be delivering next week,” said Wallen’s father, Mark Wallen. “We only found out that it was a boy by autopsy.”
Wallen’s father, sister and mother are pushing for state Senate passage of a bill with Laura’s name on it.
“She was a vibrant, amazing person,” said her mother, Gwen Wallen.
The teacher was 14 weeks pregnant when she went missing back in September. According to police, her body was found a week later with a gunshot to the head, buried in a field in Montgomery County. Allegedly, she was killed by her boyfriend Tyler Tessier.
Tessier is now in custody and charged with killing Wallen, but not the baby she was expecting, as state law says you have to prove a fetus was viable at the time of the murder.
“We need to make a difference, and we will make a difference by changing this law,” Mark Wallen said.
Laura and Reid’s Law would allow a murder charge for any fetal homicide. Reid is the name Wallen had picked if her child was born a boy.
The panel heard opposition to the bill from pro-choice group NARAL.
However, Mark Wallen said he is also pro-choice.
Sen. Justin Ready told his colleagues that the legislation is written to steer clear of the abortion issue.
“We’re certainly willing to talk about the language and make sure it’s exactly where it needs to be,” Ready said.
Supporters believe the bill will act as a deterrent, while at the same time securing justice for victims.
Tessier’s murder trial is scheduled to begin in Montgomery County in April. He has always maintained his innocence.