In July, Florida police arrested Natalia Harrell for the fatal shooting of Gladys Borcela. Harrell fired at Gladys amid an argument inside an Uber after partying together in Miami. At the time of the July 23 shooting, the 24-year-old was six weeks pregnant, according to The Washington Post. Natalia’s trial for second-degree murder is reportedly scheduled for April, but an emergency petition filed last week seeks the immediate release of the unborn fetus.
Video: Woman shoots another dead inside an Uber, 7/23/22. Jailed accused shooter is now 8-mo pregnant. Attorney representing unborn child says baby’s rights are being violated, wants child (mother) released. Petition filed Friday. Video stops before shot fired. @wsvn #Exclusive pic.twitter.com/72u9xkRklg
— Jessica Holly (@JhollyW) February 19, 2023
Natalia’s lawyer, William M. Norris, argued that the “unborn child” should be discharged from jail because it is innocent. Additionally, the filing alleges jail staff is endangering the fetus by preventing proper prenatal care. Natalia is about eight months pregnant. If convicted, she faces a maximum punishment of life in prison.
Williams Norris told The Washington Post:
“An unborn child has rights independent of its mother, even though it’s still in the womb. 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.”
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Authorities have held Natalia without bond at the Miami-Dade Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center. The filing claims Harrell’s last OB-GYN visit occurred in October 2022, per NBC 6 South Florida. Additionally, Natalia claims the jail hasn’t given her vitamins, liquids, and nutritional food aligning with physician recommendations for fetus development.
And while a few months pregnant, Natalia claims jail staff transported her in a corrections van without air conditioning, per Washington Post. The temperature inside the van, allegedly over 100 degrees, caused Natalia to reportedly bang on the vehicle’s walls until a Miami-Dade employee opened a door.
“Our interest is in the health of the unborn child at this point because months have passed with no prenatal care,” William Norris Norris said.
FL Attorney General Files Motion To Dismiss, Pregnant Woman’s Lawyer Files Response
Harrell’s attorney is relying on a ‘writ of habeas corpus,’ which is used to determine if a detainee’s imprisonment or detention is lawful, per Cornell Law School.
But Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody wasn’t going for the argument and reacted to the emergency petition with a motion to dismiss on Monday. The AG’s office argues Norris didn’t adequately support his assertion of botched prenatal care and says the legal argument is wrong in this case.
The next day Norris responded to the AG’s motion, per Washington Post. The latest filing doubles down on Norris’ fetus personhood argument. Additionally, Norris argues there is no other legal relief for the fetus because authorities have not charged it with a crime.
Meanwhile, the fetus’ father, Michael O’Brien, fully supports Natalia’s release.
“Obviously, I have concerns for the health and wellbeing of my baby,” O’Brien told NBC 6 South Florida. “I don’t want the baby to be born prematurely or low birth weight.”