Attorney could downgrade charges in murder of pregnant woman

Posted at 7:25 PM, Apr 11, 2012
and last updated 2012-04-11 19:25:48-04

HENRICO, Va. (WTVR)--The man accused of murdering his girlfriend in a high profile case could avoid the death penalty if he is convicted.

It all boils down to if the evidence supports a capital murder charge. Also,the family was not in favor of the death penalty.

"I believe in the system that they're going to do the right thing for our family and for the community,” said the brother of Susanna Cisneros.

C. Cisneros said his family is preparing for what will be a long legal battle. "It's a lot of work they need to do.  And it's a lot of work that we need to do to keep this family together,” he said.

The case involving the man accused of killing his sister Susanna may be taking a turn.

Henrico county prosecutor Shannon Taylor told CBS 6 that she may downgrade the capital murder charge against Gregory Nelson, Jr.

If that happens, Nelson won`t face the death penalty.

"We just want to make sure that when we're talking about the standard of proof, the proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Shannon Taylor, the Henrico County commonwealth's Attorney.

Susanna Cisneros was just days away from delivering her baby - when she was stabbed to death - in a Henrico parking lot near where she worked.  Her unborn son died too.

The Cisneros family has said they are against the death penalty.

Still, Taylor couldn't tell us if that played a role, only that fetal homicide, which carries a capital murder charge is hard to prove.

"As an attorney, we have to be academic in assessing the facts of the case to see if we can prove our cases beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Taylor.”And we have to be careful not to let emotions come into play even when we're faced with such a horrible tragic situation that we have currently."

"There's always a risk in any case really...especially in a capital [murder] case,” said Ed Riley, defense attorney.

"Don't want to make a mistake, and this may not be one of those cases necessarily....and also the cost and expense and everything else that goes with a capital case…it's just significant."