The woman accused of kidnapping a newborn girl from a Jacksonville hospital 20-years-ago and raising her as her own pleaded guilty Monday morning to charges of kidnapping and interference with custody.
In exchange for pleading guilty, Gloria Williams is asking for a sentence of 22 years or less on the kidnapping charge and five years or less on the interference charge.
Williams is accused of posing as an employee of what at the time was University Hospital, now UF Health Jacksonville, and walking out with a baby named Kamiyah Mobley. Just over a year ago, two tips led Jacksonville police to the teenager Williams raised in South Carolina as Alexis Manigo, and tests matched her DNA with that of the kidnapped baby.
Judge Marianne Aho was asked to set a sentencing hearing at a later date.
If Williams were to be convicted at trial, she could face a maximum of life in prison, but in an interview with a South Carolina newspaper, Manigo said she was hoping the woman who raised her would face less than 10 years in prison.
Attorneys in this case told our News4Jax partner that the wishes of Alexis Manigo and her birth parents could play a role in the terms or Williams' plea agreement. The girl's biological parents have stayed away from the court proceedings, saying they only wanted to focus on building a long-denied relationship with their daughter.
Rhonda Peoples-Waters, a local defense attorney who not affiliated with this case, said a plea deal is legally Williams' best play.
"The options are to plead directly to the court, which would expose Ms. Williams from several years in prison to 30 years in prison. Or a plea deal from the state, which may limit that exposure and maybe it will be a range of several years in prison up to 15 or 20 years in prison," Peoples-Waters said.
Peoples-Waters says Williams’ defense attorneys primary argument will be that she was a good mother and developed a strong bond with the girl she raised into Alexis Manigo.
In the only case our News4Jax partner has found with similar circumstances, a 19-day-old baby, born Carlina White, was taken from a New York hospital by a woman posing as a nurse. The girl was raised as Netty Nance, but eventually discovered her real identity in her 20s when she tried to get health insurance while pregnant. The kidnapper in that case pleaded guilty in 2012 to a federal kidnapping charge and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.