Update: Court says mother can't be charged with murder in child death case

Sarah Perry

An Oregon woman who was arrested on a second-degree murder charge after police said she allegedly injected methamphetamine while 24 weeks pregnant can no longer be charged.

During a bond hearing Friday, Saline County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Rebecca Bush said that the mother also cannot be charged with introduction of a controlled substance into the body of another person.

After further researching the case, Bush came across an Arkansas Supreme Court ruling involving a similar situation.

According to the case, "our criminal code expressly limits criminalizing conduct with respect to an unborn child to homicide offenses, and even then, does not allow a mother to be charged or convicted of any homicide offense while her child is in utero."

In reference to the charge of introduction of a controlled substance into the body of another person, the Supreme Court — in Melissa McCann Arms v. State of Arkansas 2015 — ruled that the mother could not be charged because the law only refers to a "person."

"It makes no mention of a fetus or an unborn child. Our criminal code does define a fetus as a 'person,' but only for certain homicide offenses," according to court documents from the case.

Bush said she is further researching the case to determine if Miller can be charged with any other crimes in connection with her child's death.

According to a release from the Benton Police Department, Miller was staying at a local motel at the time of the incident.
Officers responded to Saline Memorial Hospital on June 5 to investigate the death of an infant born at approximately 24 weeks gestation.

The investigation led them to the motel where the medical call originated.

Brent Standridge, who was serving as Miller's legal counsel during the hearing, said that she has no ties to Arkansas and was only "passing through."

Miller is facing charges of drug paraphernalia after police allegedly located baggies and syringes in her motel room.

Benton District Judge Mike Robinson issued a bond of $5,000 and Miller is scheduled to appear in court again at 1 p.m. July 17.