Held without charge, Miami inmate's unborn child asks court for release

The 24-page document claims that the "draconian confinement" is harming the inmate's unborn child

By Grethel Aguila
Miami Herald

MIAMI — For eight months, someone has been held at Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center with no charge.

At least that’s what lawyers are arguing in Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal. Natalia Harrell, an inmate at the center, is carrying the person behind the case: an unborn child. And it could even set a precedent amid a legal system navigating complex arguments in a post-Roe world.

On Thursday, attorney William M. Norris filed an emergency writ of habeas corpus, which allows the court to determine whether someone’s imprisonment is lawful. He argued that the fetus’s incarceration is a violation of his rights guaranteed by the U.S. and Florida constitutions.

“UNBORN CHILD has not been charged with any crime by the State,” the writ of habeas corpus said. ”Further, the State has placed the UNBORN CHILD in such inherently dangerous environment by placing the UNBORN CHILD in close proximity to violent criminal offenders.”

The 24-page document claims that the “draconian confinement” is harming Harrell’s unborn child. It says the fetus isn’t receiving adequate prenatal care, including vitamins and visits to specialists, and also has been the victim of negligence — at one point being trapped in a corrections transport van without air conditioning while temperatures exceeded 100 degrees.

The unborn child, the writ argues, should be released so they can get necessary care and treatment, be free from “unlawful and illegal detention” and avoid entering the world in a dangerous environment like a prison cell.

Harrell, 24, was arrested and charged with second degree murder — a felony punishable by life in prison — while 6-weeks pregnant on July 26, 2022. She was involved in fatal quarrel that was caught on tape while inside an Uber near Southeast First Avenue and First Street in Brickell.

As she and Gladys Yvette Borcela argued, Harrell leaped from the third row of seats to the second row. Harrell’s lawyers say that she feared Borcela wanted to harm her and her unborn child, and that’s why pulled out a gun from her purse and fired a single round.

James Reyes, director of the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation, must respond to the writ by Monday, according to court records. Harrell is also requesting a hearing for March 7 where her lawyers could argue why she should receive a bond.


©2023 Miami Herald.
Visit miamiherald.com.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Recommended for you

Copyright © 2023 Corrections1. All rights reserved.