Jan 24,2008 00:00
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. -- The results of a second autopsy on the fetus of a slain Marine may determine if Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean faces a second murder charge in North Carolina.
Officials accuse Laurean of killing Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, who was eight months pregnant. He allegedly then burned and buried her body in his backyard.
A state autopsy suggested the fetus was not born alive. The U.S. military requested a second autopsy to determine if oxygen was present in the lungs of the fetus. The presence of oxygen would suggest the infant took a breath, CNN said Thursday.
North Carolina law forbids murder charges for suspects accused of killing a fetus, but the presence of oxygen may prompt officials to bring a second murder charge against Laurean.
Lauterbach, who accused Laurean of raping her, disappeared Dec. 19. Her body surfaced Jan. 11.
Federal officials say they believe Laurean is in Mexico and the U.S. State Department asked Mexican authorities to arrest him.
A grand jury convenes Thursday morning to consider first-degree murder charges against Laurean.
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