By Dave Andrusko
When last we wrote about Roger Holland, the Apple Valley, Minnesota man stood accused of an incredible brutal crime: strangling his pregnant wife at their town house and trying to make it look as if Margorie Holland died when she accidentally fell down a staircase. Her 15-week-old unborn baby also died last March.
As we noted at the time, in a motion, his attorney, Marsh Halberg, tried a “novel” and wholly unpersuasive argument: that “The death of the fetus was an abortion, not a murder, and the only person whose rights that such an act could have violated — the mother — already was dead,” according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press’s Marino Eccher.
Having not attended the trial, I don’t know if Halberg ever floated that absurd theory based, bizarre as it sounds, on the constitutional right to equal protection. *
But early Tuesday morning, after ten hours of deliberation a jury convicted Holland on all counts: two first-degree premeditated murder charges and two of second-degree intentional murder, according to the Dakota County Attorney’s Office, the (Minneapolis) Star-Tribune reported.
“We are pleased to have brought Roger Holland to justice for this senseless and violent crime that took the lives of Margorie Holland and her unborn child,” Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said in a statement. “Our deep sympathy is extended to the family and friends of Marjorie Holland for their great loss.”
Prosecutor Phil Prokopowicz told the jury in his closing argument that “It is not easy to strangle someone to death,” according to the story written by the Star-Tribune’s Pat Pheifer. “Think of the intensity of that moment, whatever he used to squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.”
However Mrs. Holland “fought,” Prokopowicz said. “She fought for her life and that of her unborn child.”
*James Backstrom noted in response that a case Halberg cited as a reason not to charge his client with a second murder did not apply because it took place BEFORE Minnesota passed a fetal homicide law in 1986, thanks to the work of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, NRLC’s state affiliate. That law specifies that the perpetrator is to be charged with two murders when he kills a pregnant woman and her unborn child dies. The two-victim principle was upheld by the Minnesota Supreme Court in “State v. Merrill” in 1990.