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Colorado woman loses unborn child in shooting

Sturgis Strand's family is calling for a change in state statutes surrounding shootings that lead to the death of an unborn child.

FORT MORGAN, Colo. — A family in northern Colorado is continuing to lean on each other for support as they grapple with the loss of an unborn child. 

An aunt of 24-year-old Sturgis Strand said Sturgis was injured in a shooting Nov. 22. She was 37 weeks pregnant at the time. 

The Morgan County Sheriff's Office said the shooting happened in the 25000 block of Morgan County Road T.9. That's about seven miles from the city of Brush.

> RELATED: Unborn child dead, 2 people wounded in shooting, deputies say

The sheriff's office said Sturgis was shot in the abdomen. Her boyfriend, Juan Gutierrez, was shot in the shoulder, her family and the sheriff's office said. 

The couple was about to have a baby, named Mario, Sturgis' aunt Misty Strand said. Mario did not survive the shooting.

According to the sheriff's office, 25-year-old Andres Garcia was taken into custody on the following charges:

  • Attempted second-degree murder (two counts)
  • Unlawful termination of a pregnancy
  • First-degree trespass
  • Violation of a protection order (three counts)
  • Domestic violence

As of Wednesday, Garcia was still being held on a $2 million bond in the Morgan County Jail. He told investigators, according to an affidavit, that he was on his way to "hide" at his aunt's house in Greeley when he was stopped by the undersheriff.

According to Misty, Garcia is an ex-boyfriend of Sturgis. The arrest affidavit obtained by 9NEWS indicates that Garcia and Sturgis have a child together and that he was at the home that day to pick up that child. Gutierrez told investigators that when he arrived Garcia and Sturgis began arguing outside. He said that Garcia pulled out and gun and began shooting.

According to the affidavit, there were prior domestic incidents between Garcia and Sturgis which included an incident where he punched her in the face which resulted in a black eye. Due to a prior domestic violence conviction, Garcia was prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm, the document says.

Garcia told investigators that the gun used to belong to him, but said he had turned it over to his mother following his conviction. On the day of the shooting he said he "just had a feeling," and said he took the gun from his mother and brought it with him to the home.

Credit: Photo courtesy of Misty Strand
Sturgis Strand with her boyfriend, Juan Gutierrez

"We are all overwhelmed by the situation," Misty said in an emailed statement. "3 weeks ago, they planned and had a baby shower now they are planning and having a funeral."

Misty said Sturgis and Juan have been released from the hospital, but mentally and emotionally, they are living any parent's worst nightmare.

Misty said the family believes Garcia should be charged with murder when it comes to the death of baby Mario. 

According to the arrest affidavit, the doctor who performed an emergency C-section said he believed Mario was about 36 to 37 weeks gestation and believed Mario was viable prior to Sturgis being shot.

"Colorado lawmakers made a policy decision in 2013 that they would not let the issue of when a person is, or is a person, interrupt the flow of the criminal law," 9NEWS Legal Expert Scott Robinson said. "So lawmakers in 2013 decided to make any unborn child not a person for the purposes of the homicide and assault statutes."

"As a consequence, the crime of unlawful termination of pregnancy, if done without knowing or intending that the child would be lost, is merely a class five felony with a maximum sentence of six years," Robinson said. "Of course, that doesn't take into account the charges involving the mother."

The distinction, Robinson said, is whether there was knowing intent to terminate the pregnancy through harming the mother.

"So the individual who allegedly fired the shots is looking at decades and decades, potentially a life behind bars," he said. 

Credit: Byron Reed
The Morgan County Justice Center

Misty hopes that what happened now sheds light on that state statute. 

"We would like and will work hard for this to change," Misty wrote. "This needs to change. Baby Mario deserves justice, he was murdered."

Misty has also organized a fundraiser to help Sturgis and Juan.


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