On December 18, 2012, in Priest River, Idaho, Jeremy Keith Swanson clocked out of work, drove to Priest River and purchased an ice pick at a local hardware store.
Upon arriving home, Jeremy then argued with his 27-year-old wife, Jennifer, before she ultimately retired to their bedroom. He later attacked her with the ice pick and a kitchen knife, stabbing her 37 times, which resulted in her death. At the time that she died, Jennifer was about 15 – 18 weeks pregnant with their preborn child.
Since, Idaho Code 18-4001 already defines murder as “the unlawful killing of a human being including, but not limited to, a human embryo or fetus, with malice aforethought or the intentional application of torture to a human being, which results in the death of a human being”, Jeremy Swanson was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one for the death of his wife Jennifer, and one for the death of his preborn child.
Ten months later, Swanson entered into a plea agreement with the state which stepped down the fetal first-degree murder charge to murder in the second degree. In exchange for the pleas, the prosecution agreed not to seek charge enhancements or the death penalty. Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall recommended a life sentence without possibility of parole due to the ferocious and premeditated nature of the attack. “There’s no way to put a meaning on the evil that occurred that night in December,” said Marshall.
At his sentencing, judge Benjamin R. Simpson said one of the psychologists concluded that Swanson presented a high risk to the public and found that the case was one of clear premeditation. “These two crimes were committed with unspeakable violence,” said Simpson. “I don’t find any reasonable probability that you’re going to be rehabilitated.” Swanson was sentenced to a life sentence for the first-degree murder of his wife and to a life sentence for the second-degree murder of his preborn child. There is no possibility of parole.
In this criminal case, the Idaho statutes had it right. Swanson should not have been allowed to kill his preborn child, and in doing so, he was rightly charged by the Bonner County prosecutor with first-degree murder, and due to the premeditated heinous nature of the crime, he was rightly punished with a severe penalty. The amazing thing is though, that on that same day, because of Idaho Code section 18-4016, Jennifer Swanson could have premeditatively scheduled an appointment at an abortion facility and had the same preborn baby killed and removed from her womb, and according to the current Idaho code she could not have been prosecuted for murdering her child. The Idaho statutes do not say that her abortion would not be considered a murder, but the statutes simply prohibit her prosecution for such a premeditated, heinous crime.
In the current Idaho codes, we make exceptions for murder. There is a special class of individuals who can murder other individuals without fear of prosecution. And because there is no punishment, Idaho mothers avail themselves of the opportunity to kill their preborn children with impunity 1,750 times every year. Ecclesiastes 8:11 tells us “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil”.
The initiative petition to abolish abortion in Idaho has as a goal the establishment of equal protection under the law from conception to natural death for all human beings. The goal is not to punish women. Rather, it is to eliminate the discrimination that allows only a special class of born human beings to get away with murder. When Idaho passes the initiative petition and defies any contrary court opinions, we expect that few, if any, mothers will ever be prosecuted under the initiative’s statutory changes. This is because good criminal law, properly enforced and with a substantial punishment for its violation, acts as a deterrent to rampant criminal activity.
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