An unborn child is seeking its freedom — not from the womb, but from jail.
A Florida attorney filed an emergency writ of habeas corpus last week with the state’s Third District Court of Appeal on behalf of the unborn child of Natalia Latisha Harrell, who was arrested in July and charged with second-degree murder, the Miami Herald reported.
William M. Norris filed the writ, arguing that the fetus’ imprisonment is a violation of its rights guaranteed by the U.S. and Florida constitutions, according to the newspaper.
Norris’ petition states that the “unborn child” is innocent and should be discharged from jail so it can receive proper care, the Herald reported. That would require Harrell to be released from jail until the child is born, the writ argues.
“Unborn child has not been charged with any crime by the state,” the writ of habeas corpus stated, according to court records. “Further, the state has placed the unborn in such inherently dangerous environment by placing the unborn in close proximity to violent criminal offenders.”
The writ also claims that the unborn child has received inadequate prenatal care while Harrell has been held without bond,” WTVJ reported.
“An unborn child has rights independent of its mother, even though it’s still in the womb,” 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.”
Harrell, 24, of Miami, was arrested on July 26, 2022, and charged with one count of second-degree murder with a weapon, according to Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation online booking records. She remains in the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center without bond, the Herald reported.
Harrell was six weeks pregnant when she was arrested after she was involved in a fatal quarrel that was caught on video inside an Uber in downtown Miami.
According to the Miami Police Department, officers and paramedics responded to a call at about 2:30 a.m. on July 26. Upon arrival, authorities found Gladys Yvette Borcela, 28, unresponsive inside a Uber vehicle, according to the Herald. According to an arrest report, Borcela had been shot in the torso.
The arrest report stated that the video showed Harrell and Borcela getting into a verbal argument inside the vehicle, the television station reported. Investigators said that Harrell reached into her purse and produced a gun.
A witness in the SUV told police that Harrell warned Borcela when the argument turned physical, the Herald reported.
“You don’t want this; you don’t want me to go in my purse,” Harrell allegedly said.
Harrell then allegedly fired a single shot at Borcela, WPLG-TV reported.
On Monday, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office filed a motion to dismiss Norris’ petition, the Post reported. The motion argues that Norris did not provide the necessary documentation to support the allegations about inadequate medical treatment.
The motion also asserts that habeas corpus is the wrong legal argument from which to seek relief.
On Tuesday, Norris filed a response to the state’s motion, reasserting that a fetus is a person and that it has no other legal relief because it is not charged with any crime, the Post reported. Therefore, the unborn child has no ongoing court cases under which to file claims, according to the newspaper.
A Miami-Dade County corrections and rehabilitation spokesperson told the Post in a statement that the department is reviewing its prenatal care services.
“We are committed to ensuring all inmates receive professional, timely medical care and all appropriate treatment,” the spokesperson told the newspaper.
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