Pregnant woman argues her unborn baby is being illegally detained at Florida jail
A pregnant woman in Florida has argued that she should be released from jail pending her murder trial because her fetus is innocent.
Natalia Harrel, 24, is accused of fatally shooting 28-year-old Gladys Borcela during an argument inside an Uber vehicle last summer. Ms Harrell, who was six weeks pregnant at the time of her arrest on second-degree murder charges, is currently being held at the Miami-Dade Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.
In a habeas corpus emergency filing, Ms Harrell’s attorney William Norris claimed that the prison facility has failed to provide adequate medical care to Ms Harrell, who is nearing labour in the upcoming weeks, the Miami Herald first reported.
Mr Norris argued that Ms Harrell’s unborn child, and subsequently its mother, should be released from jail so it can receive proper medical treatment. According to the filing, Mr Norris claimed that his client has not had an OBGYN appointment since October.
“An unborn child has rights independent of its mother, even though it’s still in the womb,” Mr Norris told The Washington Post. “The unborn child has been deprived of due process of law in this incarceration. You simply have to have the unborn child as a factor in the equation.”
“UNBORN CHILD will be likely brought into this world on the concrete floor of the prison cell, without the aid of qualified medical physicians and paramedics, and in the presence of violent criminals,” the filing by Mr Norris stated.
“... the State has placed the UNBORN CHILD in such inherently dangerous environment by placing the UNBORN CHILD in close proximity to violent criminal offenders.”
Mr Norris also claimed that his client is not receiving a proper diet that would help her child develop. The allegations go back to Ms Harrell’s early imprisonment, with her attorney also noting in the filing that she had to endure 100-degree temperatures while being transported in a van.
A guard only opened the door when she banged the vehicle’s door, according to the Post.
A spokesperson for the jail told the outlet that they were investigating the complaints.
The prosecution has since filed to dismiss the motion, noting that the defence is not employing the concept of habeas corpus — a legal recourse used to argue unlawful imprisonment — properly. Mr Norris then contended that because the fetus is not being charged with any crime, filings on its behalf must be made on its mother’s case.
Ms Harrell, who has pleaded not guilty in the case, faces life in prison if convicted.
She, Borcela and several others had been at a bar before an argument unfolded between the two inside their Uber on 23 June 2022.
A trial is scheduled for April.