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Man Convicted of Murder in Death of Pregnant Woman

February 9, 1989 GMT

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ A man has been convicted of murdering and robbing a pregnant woman who gave birth to a brain-damaged girl by Caesarean section moments before dying.

A jury deliberated less than four hours before convicting Charles Kenneth McCovey, 44, of second-degree murder and aggravated robbery for shooting Anna Holmes in front of her three children last April.

Mrs. Holmes, 31, who was eight months pregnant, had gone to a video store with her three children to select videos for a pajama party.

She died moments after doctors delivered her daughter by Caesarean section about an hour after the shooting.

The child suffered brain damage because of her mother’s injuries, a fact that was kept from the jury by 3rd District Judge Raymond Uno.

McCovey, who admitted using alcohol and amphetamines at the time of the crime but said he didn’t intend to kill Mrs. Holmes, cried after the verdict.

″I thought the jury would believe his version of what happened because it was true,″ defense attorney Andy Valdez said. ″I think Chuck had more confidence than we did.″

Deputy Salt Lake County Attorney Tom Vuyk, who had sought a first-degree murder conviction and a death sentence, said, ″The jury has spoken and we accept their verdict.″

Valdez said he was relieved by the verdict and had been worried by publicity over the Florida execution of Ted Bundy and a recent Utah Supreme Court ruling upholding a death sentence against another of his client’s, Ronnie Lee Gardner.

″The last first-degree homicide trial I had, I lost, and my client is on death row. So this is a great relief,″ he said.

In closing arguments, Vuyk said that McCovey intended to kill Mrs. Holmes.

″He placed a gun - a .38-caliber pistol - to the back of her head and pulled the trigger ... that bullet entered her skull because he pulled the trigger,″ Vuyk said. He also recounted that the victim’s then 11-year-old daughter, Brandy, had testified hearing McCovey say ″that’ll take care of her″ or ″that’s the end of her″ after her mother was shot.

Valdez said McCovey had no reason to kill the woman and had insisted his gun discharged accidentally.

″He’s living his own self-imposed sentence, ladies and gentleman. He didn’t intend to kill her,″ he said.

Sentencing was set for March 13. McCovey faces a maximum sentence of five years to life on each conviction.