Trial Begins Friday for Belkis Gonzalez in Florida Botched Abortion Case
by Steven Ertelt
October 7, 2009
Miami, FL (LifeNews.com) — The trial of Belkis Gonzalez, who was arrested on two felony counts related to the death of a baby in a botched abortion case, begins on Friday. In the botched abortion incident a young woman named Sycloria Williams went to the GYN Diagnostic Center abortion facility in Hialeah, outside Miami, for an abortion.
She had laminaria inserted and went back the next day for the abortion but, instead, gave birth to a baby named Shanice.
Abortion practitioner Pierre Renelique did not show up for a scheduled abortion, causing Shanice to be born alive.
When that happened, Gonzalez allegedly stuffed the baby’s body in a biohazard bag and tossed the bag on the roof when local officials stopped by to investigate after they received a tip.
Gonzalez was charged with the unlicensed practice of a health care profession resulting in serious bodily injury, a second degree felony, and with tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, a third degree felony.
If convicted of the charges, Gonzalez faces a minimum of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. She could receive a maximum of 15 years in prison on the unlicensed medicine charge and five years for tampering with evidence.
But critics say the charges are not high enough and Rev. O’Neal Dozier, pastor of The Worldwide Christian Center Church in Pompano Beach, where a funeral for Shanice was held, is speaking up.
"The proper charge here is murder. This is a homicide," he said, according to NBC 4 news.
Hialeah police chief Mark Overton said he had hoped to file stiffer charges against Gonzalez but had to follow the guidelines in criminal law.
"I know there’s outrage out there," Overton said, according to the Miami television station. They may not be the charges that we want to hear or we want to see, but the bottom line is, is that she’s being charged with serious felonies and she’s going to be held to account. We’ll see to that."
Attorneys for Williams wanted officials to file murder charges related to Shanice’s death.
But Ed Griffith, a spokesman for the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, previously said investigators were unable to precisely determine the reasons for the baby’s death and whether Gonzalez was directly responsible.
"If we can’t prove that the actions of Belkis Gonzalez were the cause of the infant’s death, ethically, we cannot charge her with murder or manslaughter," Griffith said.
The baby’s body had decomposed by the time authorities found it a week later, Griffith said.
Meanwhile, Tom Pennekamp, Sycloria Williams’ Miami-based attorney, is moving ahead with a wrongful death lawsuit.
He believes the case "is clearly a homicide" and the lawsuit alleges Gonzalez was responsible for the baby’s death and that the emotional trauma William faced afterwards prompted the lawsuit.
"This woman came face to face with a baby," he said. Witnessing a baby being thrown away is "not what she signed up for," he said.
The abortion practitioner in the case, Pierre Renelique, saw the Board of Medicine revoke his medical license in February.
Operation Rescue president Troy Newman helped expose the problems at the abortion center.
"For two and a half years we have worked to expose Gonzalez’s actions that resulted in the death of Baby Shanice and bring her to justice," he said.
"This victory belongs to all who called and wrote asking for justice to be done. There is little doubt this would have been swept under the rug and forgotten if not for the public pressure that was brought to bear," Newman continued.
The charges came after OR and other pro-life groups joined the Florida House of Representatives in asking Florida State Attorney Katherine Rundle to pursue charges in connection with the botched abortion.
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