Trial Postponed for Belkis Gonzalez in Florida Botched Abortion, Born Alive Case
by Steven Ertelt
October 14, 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, was slated to begin Friday but has been postponed. 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.
Officials at the pro-life group Operation Rescue have been closely following the case and informed LifeNews.com today that the trial had been postponed.
A hearing has been set for November 24, 2009, but there is no word when this case will actually go to trial, says OR staffer Cheryl Sullenger.
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.
Critics had been hoping for more serious charges given the gravity of the crimes involved.
"While murder charges would be ideal, the current law does not allow for that given the facts of this case," she said.
"Baby Shanice Osbourne was under the 24 week legal requirement that Florida law specifies must be reached before murder charges can be used. To charge Gonzalez under the current law would be to insure that she goes free. It’s not right, but that is the unfortunate reality," she explained.
Sullenger said the lower charges "shows the need to change the law to protect babies born alive at any age."
"Gonzalez is a dangerous woman. It is important to get her off the street at this point, and these charges will do that," the pro-life advocate continued.
"It’s kind of like convicting Al Capone of tax evasion instead of murder. She needs to be behind bars any legal way we can get her there," she said.
Hialeah police chief Mark Overton has 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.
Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From LifeNews.com
Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report Receive a free daily email report from LifeNews.com with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.