Originally created 06/18/04

Charges in slaying of fetus uncertain



District Attorney Danny Craig says he has not decided whether two men charged with murder in the slaying of an expectant mother of three should be charged with the death of her unborn child, officials said Thursday.

Ernest Bussey III, 21, and Cardale D. Gibbons, 22, are charged with malice murder in the death of Shanequa Carpenter, 24.

Unlike a recent abduction and slaying of another pregnant Augusta woman, in which the suspect was charged with murder in the death of Tamara Dunstan's unborn child, the men arrested in the Carpenter case aren't yet facing such charges.

"We had information readily available in the Dunstan case that is not yet available in the Carpenter case," Mr. Craig said. "But we do expect to have that information within the next day or so."

He said he couldn't specify what information he referred to.

Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength said his office does not anticipate filing murder warrants against the men for the baby's killing, leaving it to the grand jury to indict the men for the death of the unborn child.

"In the vast majority of cases, you will see the grand jury indictment contain charges not contained in the warrants themselves," Mr. Craig said.

"The warrant process is only one by which we gain custody until a grand jury can indict the criminal," he said.

In Mrs. Dunstan's case, Sheriff Strength said, Ronald Francis Burke was charged in the death of her unborn child because investigators had discussed it with Mr. Craig before Mr. Burke was arrested.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.

Danny Craig: District attorney says he has not decided whether two men will be charged with an unborn child's death.