Criminal charges against Belkis Gonzalez related to the 2006 death of baby born alive after failed abortion has yet to see a courtroom
Update: E-mail address for Judge Thornton’s office below!
Miami, Florida – It is a case so bizarre that the most creative Hollywood screenwriter would be hard put to make it up. A baby born alive at an abortion clinic was dumped in a biohazard bag and tossed on the clinic roof to decompose in the hot Florida sun. The woman most responsible for the baby’s death faces criminal charges, but is attempting to evade justice through a tactic known as “defense by delay.”
It began on July 19, 2006, when 18-year old Sycloria Williams sought out the services of abortionist Pierre Renelique at his North Miami abortion clinic. She was 23 weeks pregnant.
Renelique inserted laminaria, gave her a drug that would stimulate uterine contractions, and sent her home with instructions to return to A Gyn Diagnostics in Hialeah the following morning when he would complete her abortion.
When Williams arrived at the Hialeah clinic at 9 AM the next morning, she was already experiencing cramping, but Renelique was no where to be found. Clinic co-owner Belkis Gonzalez, a woman with no medical training, directed Williams to wait in the clinic’s recovery room, where she was given additional medication. As the minutes and hours ticked by, Williams began feeling worse. She suffered the pain severe contractions and nausea. Her complaints were met by stern orders for her to sit down and keep her legs shut, even though Williams instinctively knew that her baby was coming. Williams was told that Renelique would be there by 2:00 PM, but as the hour passed, Renelique still was not responding to pages. At that point, Williams lifted herself out of the recliner and birthed a baby girl.
The tiny baby was writhing, her chest rising and falling as she struggled for her first breaths. At that point, pandemonium broke out inside the clinic. Gonzalez grabbed a pair of orange-handled desk scissors and severed the baby’s umbilical cord, but did not clamp it. She shoved the baby into a red biohazard bag along with caustic chemicals meant to speed decomposition, and tossed the body onto the roof of the clinic.
When Renelique arrived at the clinic at 3:00 PM, he finally attended to Williams. At a hearing of the Florida Medical Board held in February, 2009, Renelique told the Board that he was so confused and unaware of William’s condition that he started an abortion procedure on the sedated woman even though she had delivered her baby an hour earlier.
“That’s when one of the employees came to me and said, ‘Dr. Renelique, what are you looking for?’ I said, ‘I’m looking for a fetus.’ And she said, ‘What fetus?’” Renelique said.
Renelique and his associates then falsified the patient’s charts to indicate that he had conducted the abortion and discharged her at 12:05 PM even though Williams did not give birth until 2:00 PM and Renelique did not arrive at the clinic until after 3:00 PM.
An informant sneaked out to a nearby pay phone and called the police to report the murder of baby Shanice Osbourne, as her mother would later name her. The police arrived and searched the clinic but could not find the baby. On second search, the body of Shanice was found. The abortion clinic was closed by the state.
Operation Rescue publicized the incident and demanded criminal charges against Gonzalez and Renelique. In January, 2009, a pro-life legal group, the Thomas More Society, filed suit on behalf of Williams detailing her horrific ordeal and the trauma of witnessing the murder of her daughter. That lawsuit generated additional publicity and public outrage, and prompted a dramatic chain of events.
On February 6, 2009, the Florida Medical Board revoked Renelique’s Florida medical license.
On February 20, 2009, forty-four members of the Florida House of Representatives sent a letter to State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle demanding that action be taken to bring Gonzalez to justice for her part in the death of Baby Shanice.
That same day, at the request of Operation Rescue, Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney of the Washington, D.C. based Christian Defense Coalition held a news conference outside Rundle’s office demanding action and taking the case to the public. Pro-lifers around the nation began to ring Rundel’s phones.
Rundle issued a statement later that afternoon that took on a defensive tone and attempted to justify 3 years of foot-dragging.
“While we understand the emotional perception that this is an ‘easy matter,’ nothing could be further from the truth,” Rundle wrote.
However, public outcry soon prompted action. On March 3, 2009, Gonzalez was finally arrested and charged on two felony counts of unlicensed practice of medicine and evidence tampering. Rundle refused to charge Gonzalez with the murder of Baby Shanice because, at 23 weeks, there was some question as to viability.
“It doesn’t matter if Shanice would have lived 8 minutes or 80 years,” said Newman. “Actions Gonzalez took led to the death of Shanice Osbourne, and no one denies that. Gonzalez should have been charged with murder.”
But even with the lesser charges, Gonzalez faces up to 20 years in prison because she was on probation at the time of her arrest on an earlier charge of practicing medicine without a license. That is, if she ever gets to trial.
Operation Rescue has monitored the Gonzalez case since it was filed and has recorded a disturbing trend.
“Each of Gonzalez’s hearings has been continued by request of the defense for about 30 days or so and this has been going on for months,” said Newman. “There is no trial date on the horizon, just endless hearing dates and continuances.”
For the past 16 months Gonzalez has made no court appearances and every one of her hearings dates, scheduled at the rate of about one per month, have been delayed. Her next scheduled court date is August 25, 2010, but there is no hope that this hearing will ever take place. There is no trial date in sight.
This is known as “defense by delay.” It is a tactic used by criminal defendants who have little hope of prevailing at the time of trial. As the delays drag on, the chances increase of beating the rap. Witnesses’ memories begin to fail or witnesses move and cannot be found. Sometimes witnesses die before a case can be tried. Without the testimony of witnesses, some criminal cases are dropped for lack of evidence, and the perpetrators get off scot-free.
This tactic to thwart justice is currently legal and used by more than just abortion industry criminals all over the United States, according to Ed Griffiths, spokesperson for the Florida State Attorney’s office which is prosecuting the Gonzalez case.
“When delay is allowed to kill a case, it is a miscarriage of justice that places society in danger because it teaches the criminals that they will never have to pay for their crimes. In the Gonzalez case, her first conviction with probation for practicing medicine without a license was no deterrent at all, and she went on to kill an innocent baby. Only jail will deter many of these people. Without a stiff sentence, abortion workers tend to re-offend,” said Newman.
But the defendants need to get to trial, first. For Gonzalez, not only did the State Attorney delay charges for three years, but now Judge John W. Thornton, Jr. is allowing an endless deferral of hearing dates.
“As long as this judge thinks no one is watching, he will allow this case to be continued into oblivion,” said Newman. “Public outcry has proven to be one of the best means available to keep the system honest and accountable. In the interest of justice and for the sake of public safety, we must speak out and demand that this case move forward.”
Concerned citizens may wish to express their opinions directly to Judge Thornton at (305) 548-5110. You can e-mail his office at firstname.lastname@example.org