Arkansas mom, premature son die after stabbing

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This undated photo provided by the Fort Smith, Ark., Police Department shows James Herring, who was arrested on a murder charge Tuesday, May 15, 2012 after his pregnant wife, who had been stabbed in the chest, staggered into the Fort Smith police station and collapsed. Police say officers rushed 32-year-old Celestia Duffin to Fort Smith hospital, where doctors delivered her baby prematurely, but both mother and infant died. (AP Photo/Fort Smith Police Department)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A newlywed was being held on a murder charge Wednesday after his pregnant wife staggered into a western Arkansas police station, her blouse covered in blood from the stab wound in her chest, and collapsed.

Emergency responders rushed Celestia Duffin, who was nearly seven months pregnant, to a local hospital where doctors delivered her baby, though both she and her son died, Fort Smith police spokesman Sgt. Daniel Grubbs said.

Duffin ran to the police station from a nearby traffic accident Tuesday where officers found her husband, James Herring. The couple married a week ago Wednesday, according to court records, but Herring told investigators they were already talking about divorce, Grubbs said.

After talking to investigators, Herring was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder and attempted murder. Those charges could change because the baby died after Herring was booked into jail, Grubbs said.

Formal charges are expected later this week.

Herring, 34, was being held without bond in Sebastian County, near the Oklahoma state border. He didn't have an attorney listed in jail records and a message left at a phone number listed for him wasn't returned.

A prosecutor didn't return phone calls either.

Authorities believe that Duffin was driving with her husband when Herring stabbed her and caused her to crash into a utility pole.

The 32-year-old woman managed to run to the nearby police station. Once inside, Duffin — her blouse and stomach covered in blood — said, "Help me," before falling to the floor, according to police reports.

"I radioed dispatch and then went back over to the female subject and could see that she was barely breathing, and was very pale," one officer, Trex Smith, wrote in a report.

He lifted her shirt to find out where she was bleeding and saw a stab wound in her lower chest. He put paper towels on the gash and applied pressure until medics showed up and rushed her to the hospital, where doctors delivered Duffin's son. The baby died before hospital staff could fly him to Little Rock for care.

About the same time Duffin showed up at the police station, someone called police about the accident and found Herring, who "appeared to be in a state of shock," Grubbs said in a statement. Herring wasn't injured and no one else was in the car, Grubbs said.

A man who answered a phone number listed for a relative of Duffin's said her family wasn't ready to talk.


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