Man accused of killing pregnant wife claims fetus' death was abortion

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The Apple Valley man accused of killing his wife who was 15 weeks pregnant in March is seeking a reduced charge less than a week before his trial is set to begin.

Roger Holland, 36, faces a pair of first-degree and second-degree murder charges in the deaths of 37-year-old Margorie Holland and their unborn child.

Defense attorney Marsh Hallberg claims the death of the fetus was an abortion, not a murder, and is seeking to have the murder charges related to the fetus' death dismissed, the Pioneer Press reports.

Halberg says the law barring unlawful abortion -- ending a pregnancy without consent -- is the proper fit if what Roger Holland is accused of and has a less-severe punishment.

Halberg also claims that the murder charges in the death of Margorie Holland encompass the death of the unborn child because the rights of a fetus fall in with the rights of the mother, the newspaper reports.

In response, Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom says there are distinct differences in the two laws and calls Halberg's claim "offensive and legally unsupported."

On the morning of March 7, police found Margorie Holland at the bottom of a stairway at the couple's Apple Valley townhome. She died an hour later at a Burnsville hospital. An autopsy revealed Margorie Holland died from injuries consistent with strangulation.

During the investigation, police found a text message exchange between the two the night before Margorie Holland's death that indicated she intended to get a divorce.

A search of data entry on Roger Holland's cell phone found an Internet search that had to do with "falling down a flight of stairs and breaking your neck."

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