Baby's death not included in new charges in Ore. murder case

Baby's death not included in new charges in Ore. murder case

Credit: KGW-TV

Korina Roberts in Washington Co. Court on June 15, 2009


by By Staff

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 1:44 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 28 at 8:32 AM

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- A woman accused of murder in the death of a pregnant woman in Oregon was arraigned on new charges on Monday, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

Korena Roberts, 27, sobbed as she was brought into court Monday. She was arraigned on four counts af aggravated murder, one count of murder and two counts of robbery in the death of 21-year-old Heather Snively. None of the murder charges were for the death of her unborn baby.

Snively was eight months pregnant when she was killed. Snively's body was found in the crawl space of a suburban Beaverton rental home on June 5. Snively's baby did not survive.

Washington County District Attorney Bob Hermann said the charges were based on the legal theory that Roberts killed Snively, tried to kidnap the child, then tried to conceal the crimes.

Monday was the deadline for an indictment that could have included additional charges involving the fetus cut from Snively's womb. Under Oregon law, prosecutors would have to determine that the infant drew a breath to meet the legal threshold for a murder charge.

Unborn baby legislation drafted

Meanwhile, A Republican state senator from Hillsboro has begun drafting legislation in direct response to the grisly murder of Snively and her unborn son.

Sen. Bruce Starr wants a law on the books in Oregon that criminalizes the killing of unborn children.

Starr was quick to point out the law would not apply to abortion procedures or medically-terminated pregnancies. Rather, it would allow prosecutors to bring murder or manslaughter charges when pregnant mothers are killed.

So far, prosecutors have only charged Roberts with one count of murder for allegedly killing Snively, and would need to prove that the unborn child had taken a breath -- the legal threshold in Oregon -- to add a second murder charge.

Roberts appeared briefly in court Monday, June 8. She did not enter a plea.

An autopsy, completed June 8, concluded that Snively's unborn child was cut from her womb; however, investigators did not know if the infant died before or after being removed.

The Washington County district attorney's office was reviewing autopsy results on the infant to determine whether he was born alive.

False 911 call alerted police

According to authorities, a 9-1-1 call was placed at 2:42 p.m. on Friday, June 5, reporting a newborn baby in distress at a home on NW Mill Creek Drive in Beaverton.

Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue responded to the address and found Roberts, 27, with another man. Roberts told responders she had just delivered the baby. The baby was rushed to the hospital but could not be revived

Doctors quickly determined that Roberts could not have recently delivered a baby.

Police returned to the home and found the body of a 21-year-old pregnant woman in the home's crawl space. The victim was later identified as Heather Megan Snively.

Police arrested Roberts, who faces murder charges. Roberts has two children, both under 10, who were staying with relatives and not at home when police believe Snively was killed, according to police.

Roberts bragged about being pregnant

Neighbor Terry King told KGW that Roberts had recently been bragging about being pregnant.

"My wife, she loves babies and when Korena told her she was having one, my wife asked if she could hold it. She acted perfectly normal, but didn't appear pregnant," said King.

Police say Roberts had been telling friends and family for months that she was pregnant. She had told many people she knew, including her live-in boyfriend, that she was pregnant with twins.

Roberts' boyfriend continues to be cooperative, police said, and did not face any criminal charges at this time.

Women met on Craigslist, police say

Snively's mother, Heidi Kidd of St. Albans, W.Va., said Snively met Roberts a few weeks ago through Craigslist, the online classified service. According to Kidd, Roberts told Snively she was pregnant and wanted baby clothes. They befriended one another and kept talking online.

"I guess they decided to meet and I guess that was the wrong thing to do," Kidd said. "But Heather's always been a very trusting person."

Washington County Detectives have confirmed the women met through Craigslist, and say they believe the two only knew each other for a week or so.

Detectives also believe that Ms. Roberts may have had contact with numerous pregnant women in the Portland-Metropolitan area. They are asking anyone who has had contact with Ms. Roberts either via the Internet or in person, to please call the Washington County Sheriff's Office at (503) 846-2700.

Victim was 8 months pregnant

Kidd said her daughter was eight months pregnant, and Snively's Facebook photo shows her lifting a pink shirt to expose a large belly.

Snively and her boyfriend, identified by Kidd as Christopher Popp, recently moved to Oregon from Maryland because he got a better job. Popp, the baby's father, reported Snively missing Friday night and is not a suspect, Thompson said.

Kidd said her first grandson was to be named John Steven.

"I'm still in shock; it hasn't hit me," she said. "I mean, that initial phone call; I just couldn't believe it. I just could not believe I was talking about my own child."

Roberts could face more charges

The Washington County District Attorney's Office is trying to determine whether the baby can be considered a person under the law. If it is, then Roberts will soon face additional charges for that death as well.