Read my previous posts on this story here.
I’m guessing posts on this blog and my WorldNetDailycom columns were included as reasons by the defense to keep evidence and photos secret. Of course the Miami Herald attorney would label these as “fairly obscure websites.” Sniff, sniff. From the Miami Herald, today:
The public has the right to view evidence in the case of a woman accused of illegally providing healthcare during a botched abortion at a Hialeah clinic, a judge ruled Thursday.
Lawyers for Belkis Gonzalez, 44, citing extensive media coverage and harsh commentary in Internet postings on anti-abortion websites, had asked that evidence be kept secret to “assure a fair trial.”
Gonzalez fears ”physical and mental harm after receiving anonymous threats,” said her lawyers, who also asked that prosecutors be barred from speaking to reporters about the case….
But Miami-Dade Circuit Judge John Thornton refused to seal the evidence or issue a gag order. However, Thornton asked to view photos taken by police at the clinic before deciding whether to allow their release, a decision he will make next week.
”I’m inclined, frankly, to release those,” he said.
The defense motion to seal was opposed by The Miami Herald and WTVJ-NBC 6.
In the case being watched by both sides of the abortion debate, Miami-Dade prosecutors charged Gonzalez last month with evidence tampering and practicing healthcare without a license resulting in injury.
The incident at issue started in July 2006 when Sycloria Williams, just over 21 weeks pregnant and about to undergo an abortion, unexpectantly gave birth to a baby girl while inside A GYN Diagnostic Center…. The woman told police of seeing the ”infant moving, making noises for approximately 5 minutes,” an arrest warrant says.
Prosecutors say Gonzalez, who is not licensed to provide healthcare, snipped the umbilical cord, swept the baby into a medical waste bag and hid the body from detectives for one week.
Prosecutors did not charge her with manslaughter or murder because they could not prove the baby would have survived outside the womb or that Gonzalez’s actions caused the baby’s death. The Miami-Dade medical examiner concluded the cause of death was “extreme prematurity.”
Gonzalez’s motion asked the judge to seal records that are known as ”discovery:” police reports, witness and expert statements, photos, medical examiner reports – most of which are typically public record once prosecutors release them to the defense.
Her lawyers cited 2 Miami Herald articles, reports and reader comments from various anti-abortion websites, and statistics on violence against abortion clinics.
In court Thursday, defense lawyer Alberto Milian suggested press coverage had fueled anti-abortion websites, which labeled Gonzalez ”a murderer and a monster” and have“created a lynching environment on the Internet.”
Attorney Scott Ponce, representing the newspaper, pointed out that a detailed arrest warrant already made public described much of the evidence.
”Frankly, this isn’t a case where there is tons of publicity,” he told the judge. “Two articles. The rest are postings on fairly obscure websites.”
If convicted on both charges, Gonzalez could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. Gonzalez is also on probation for practicing medicine without a license at another of her abortion clinics in Broward County.
[HT: Operation Rescue's Cheryl Sullenger and reader Susie A.]