Kennewick Suspect in Pregnant Woman Murder Could Face Death Penalty - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Kennewick Suspect in Pregnant Woman Murder Could Face Death Penalty

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Kennewick, Wash-- The suspect accused of cutting a baby out of a pregnant woman and murdering her will not make a plea until next week.

Twenty-three year-old, Phien Sisouvanh, appeared in court today but did not give a plea because the defense wants to wait until they can get a death penalty certified lawyer to take the case.

In cases where the death penalty is a potential punishment Washington State law requires that one of the defense attorneys has tried a capital case in the past.  
Sisouvanh's defense attorneys are going to come back to court next week with a death penalty certified lawyer because of the aggravating circumstances surrounding the murder.   

After a plea is made next week, the prosecutor will have 30 days to decide if he wants to pursue the death penalty, which would make this case very expensive.

"Could be more than $1 million depending on how many appeals the defendant makes," said Brian Anderson, Kennewick Defense Attorney.

In the case of the Green River Killer, the Washington State Supreme Court has four justices who continue voting against the death penalty, which could make imposing the death penalty for this murder very difficult.

"A death penalty under any circumstances is difficult to get in Washington State, making it a very difficult decision whether or not the death penalty would ever be actually imposed," said Andy Miller, Benton County Prosecutor.

The husband of the victim was also in court wanting access to his wife's body, but the judge says they will hold the body for another week for the defense.

"The defense attorney's want to keep the body for a while; they got a court order so they can wait for the new lawyer to make the decision of whether they should have a second autopsy," said Miller.

An autopsy on the body did not determine if the woman was killed before or after the baby was cut out, and the coroner is still examining tissue samples.

The baby boy is in critical condition at a hospital in Spokane. Detectives say he made a little bit of progress today, but doctors say it will take a few more days before they can determine what his exact condition is.

Phien Sisouvahn will appear in court next week to make her plea.