JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The woman accused of kidnapping a newborn baby from a Jacksonville hospital more than 18 years ago and raising her as her daughter pleaded not guilty Thursday morning on charges of kidnapping and interference of custody.
Prosecutors said Gloria Williams, 51, kidnapped Kamiyah Mobley from the maternity ward of University Medical Center in July 1998.
Kamiyah Mobley, living the last 18 years as Alexis Manigo, spoke to many national media outlets last month in the days after Williams’ arrest. She has maintained that she still loves and supports Williams.
According to police, tips last August and November to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children helped crack the case. Last month, News4Jax went to the center to learn more about its involvement in finding Kamiyah, Williams’ alleged involvement and the case against her.
“How would you feel if this was your child taken by someone like that?” said Robert Lowery, vice president of the Missing Children's Division at the NCMEC. "Even though they presented themselves in the community as a normal citizen of the community, she is far from normal. It was very planned, very conniving. She conned a lot of people. She lied, and I think those things have to be taken into account. We are trying to understand why this happened."
Williams' hearing began at 8:45 a.m. Thursday morning. After her attorney, Diana Johnson, asked the judge to have her declared indigent for costs, she pleaded not guilty to all charges.
“If they are indigent, but they have private counsel, whether that counsel was hired or appointed, however they got involved, then in certain situations the state of Florida will pay for the cost of the litigation,” said attorney Gene Nichols, who is not connected to the case. “It's no different than having a public defender represent you.”
Her next court appearance was scheduled for April 5.
Nichols said it's somewhat telling that Johnson asked for 60 days before the next hearing. Typically, that time frame is a few weeks.
“You can fully expect the defense team is going to consider their defenses of whether or not there is some sort of an insanity defense, competency issues, and that takes time, especially in a case like this when you are addressing the potential of mental health issues from 18 years ago,” Nichols said. “It's going to take time to get doctors involved to review medical records, meet with her, so it's not surprising the defense team asked for that.”
Nichols said any plea deal in the case isn't likely to happen quickly.
“In most cases that are difficult like this, I would anticipate the State Attorney's Office probably hasn't even offered anything yet,” Nichols said. “It's very difficult to make an offer that is appropriate in this case.”
The biological parents of Kamiyah Mobley were not in court Thursday, and no family members appeared on Williams' behalf.