Trial nears for man accused of using herb to try to abort girlfriend’s baby

By Dave Andrusko

In September we wrote about 34-year-old Alfredo Vargas, accused of giving his pregnant girlfriend a herb known to induce labor or abortion in early term pregnancies. At the time he pled not guilty to attempted fetal homicide charges.

Pennington County (South Dakota) chief deputy state’s attorney Lara Roetzel said Vargas gave his girlfriend the herb from January to May of 2010.  “She became suspicious and contacted law enforcement,” Roetzel said. Fortunately the baby was born healthy.

Yesterday was the first update I’ve seen since then about Vargas, who had been extradited from Puerto Rico. Rapid City herbalist Jodi Niggemann testified “that three of the drugs in the case have a reputation as being abortion-agents,” according to a local television station. The defense challenged his qualifications, according to KOTA.

Roetzel has said this is the first case prosecutors can recall where an attempt was made to harm an unborn child in this manner. “Typically, we see a domestic violence case where the defendant will hurt the mother in an attempt to hurt the baby,” she said.

The actual trial is scheduled to begin later this month. Vargas faces up to 25 years in prison, if convicted.

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