A California man is accused of repeatedly choking a pregnant woman and causing her to miscarry her unborn baby, Louisiana authorities said.
On Feb. 20, the woman was in a rental van with the suspect, Dion Devon Harris II, 39, of Fresno as well as two elderly adults and three juveniles.
According to the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office, the woman, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, got into a dispute with Harris after she accused him of bullying the children in the vehicle.
Harris “became enraged and positioned himself behind the seat where the victim was sitting” and “reached forward with his left hand and placed it around the victim’s throat, choking the victim,” deputies said.
Harris, deputies claimed, “realized that the victim was attempting to break free of his grasp, [so] he maneuvered himself into the front passenger seat where the victim was seated with his back against the dashboard” and “then grabbed the upper shoulder portion of the seatbelt, wrapped it around the victim’s neck and pulled tightly.”
When the driver stopped the van, deputies said, Harris exited and again allegedly choked the woman with the seat belt. When she released the seatbelt and tried to escape, Harris “pulled the victim to the ground and continued to choke the victim with his left hand while pulling the victim’s hair with his right hand” until she lost consciousness, deputies said.
The van’s passengers unsuccessfully tried to stop the attack by restraining Harris, and one person laid on top of the woman in an effort to prevent him from further harming her, according to deputies.
The alleged attack ended after a passerby stopped to help and Harris walked away from the scene. The Good Samaritan drove the victim to the Port Barre Fire District 2 Central Station, where emergency medical technicians treated her before rushing her to an area hospital.
“Upon arrival at the hospital, deputies attempted to speak with the victim; however, the victim was disoriented and having a hard time communicating with the deputies,” authorities said, adding, “Hospital staff advised the deputies that the victim was approximately nine weeks pregnant and miscarried the fetus as a result of the attack.”
Deputies charged Harris with second-degree feticide and attempted second-degree murder on Feb. 23.
He was being held in the St. Landry Parish jail in lieu of a $375,000 bond.