(NBC News Channel) — A bizarre legal question could soon be decided in Miami-Dade after a petition was filed to have an inmate’s unborn baby released from detention.
A pregnant mother accused of murder wants to be released from jail, claiming her unborn child’s rights are being violated.
“Ms. Harrel has been accused. There’s no question about the accusation. She’s been denied bond. There’s no question about that,” said attorney William Norris.
But the question being raised is whether Natalia Harrell’s unborn child should remain in jail with its mother.
It’s an unusual and unprecedented stance, but Norris, who represents the unborn child, says its a fair one.
“An unborn child is a person. A person has constitutional rights and one of them is the right not to be deprived of liberty without due process of law,” Norris said.
Norris filed a petition, claiming the child should be released, that the mother hasn’t received adequate medical care and that she hasn’t been seen by an OB-GYN since October.
The petition states the unborn child seeks immediate release from custody to receive necessary immediate medical care “and to be free from unlawful and illegal detention.”
“I am asserting the right of someone who is a person who has not been considered in the decision to incarcerate his mother,” Norris said.
Harrell, now eight months pregnant, was six weeks along when she was arrested in July. She’s accused of shooting and killing Gladys Borcella during an argument in an Uber and was charged with second-degree murder. Her attorney is hoping to get her released on bond for six months.
Video from inside the van shows the two women, who knew each other, arguing. Harrell’s defense attorney Andre Rouviere says his client was standing her ground. She pleaded not guilty.
“She was pregnant. She knew she was pregnant. She was in fear that this woman was going to do something to her. She lunged herself towards my client and my client reacted,” Rouviere said.
The state fired back, responding that the petition filed on behalf of the unborn child, should be dismissed. It also says states that claims of Harrell not receiving proper medical attention would have to be proven in court.
Miami-Dade Corrections also responded with the following statement:
“Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation partners with Jackson Health System to provide healthcare to the inmates in our custody, and we are committed to ensuring all inmates receive professional, timely medical care and all appropriate treatment. We are conducting a full review of the health services offered and received to ensure that all pre-natal care being provided in our custody is appropriate.”