A woman charged with stabbing a pregnant woman to death in Kennewick and then cutting her baby from her womb apparently did not know the victim well, investigators said Wednesday.
KENNEWICK — A woman charged with stabbing a pregnant woman to death and then cutting her baby from the womb apparently did not know the victim well, investigators said Wednesday.
Phiengchai Sisouvanh Synhavong, 23, apparently met the victim Araceli Camacho Gomez, 27, only hours before the slaying occurred late Friday, Benton County Prosecutor Andrew Miller told The Associated Press.
“There is no evidence they knew each other prior to the day this happened,” Miller said.
The baby boy remained in critical condition in a Spokane hospital, but Miller said he was told the child appeared to be improving.
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No details on the child’s injuries have been released, including whether he was injured during the attack on his mother.
Miller filed a charge of aggravated first-degree murder against Synhavong but her arraignment, originally set for Wednesday, was rescheduled a week later while authorities worked to line up a defense lawyer qualified to handle a death-penalty case.
Superior Court Judge Robert Swisher approved the one-week delay at the request of defense lawyer Christopher Swaby.
“We need a lawyer with death-penalty experience,” Miller agreed.
Aggravating factors cited in the charge are premeditation and the apparent kidnapping of Camacho Gomez before she was killed, Miller said.
Prosecutors have 30 days to determine whether they will seek the death penalty. The only other sentence for aggravated murder under Washington state law is life in prison without parole.
Meanwhile, the baby’s father, Juan Campos Felipe, 34, of Pasco, must deal with a 140-mile trip to Spokane to visit his son in the hospital, care for the couple’s 10-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter and prepare his wife’s funeral. He has little money, Miller said.
“We met with him today and he’s just — there are a lot of issues,” Miller told the Tri-City Herald. “His truck is broken down. He’s been trying to go back and forth to Spokane to see the baby, and his other two children are here.”
An autopsy showed that Gomez was stabbed multiple times. Her hands and feet were bound with yarn and her uterus had been cut open and the baby removed. Her body was found in Columbia Park early Saturday.
Synhavong tried to pass the infant off as her own to emergency dispatchers in calls late Friday night, but a medical examination showed she had not recently given birth, police said.
On May 14 she married Keun Synhavong, 35, who is believed to work as a fisherman in Alaska. Acquaintances described her to the newspaper as very polite and generous.
She reportedly told friends she was pregnant and was afraid her husband would leave her if she didn’t have a baby.
Beneath her senior picture in the Southridge High School yearbook for 2004 was the quote, “Love like you’ve never been hurt before.”