A Florida woman who pleaded guilty to kidnapping a newborn and raising the child as her own has been sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Gloria Williams stared at the floor as fourth Judicial Circuit Judge, Marianne Aho, announced her punishment.
“There are no winners and no losers in this case,” Aho told the courtroom. “It’s a very sad case and many people have suffered, including Ms. Williams.”
The sentence is yet another painful development in a saga that unfolded over nearly two decades. Williams, 52, has admitted she posed as a nurse in a Jacksonville hospital to steal tiny Kamiyah Mobley in 1998, just hours after she was born.
The child’s mother told the police that a woman had entered her room and left with the baby. The infant’s mother, Shanara Mobley, thought the woman was a hospital caregiver.
Williams fled with the infant to South Carolina, where she lived with the baby under assumed names. Kamiyah became Alexis Manigo.
On the witness stand, Williams said she was reeling from depression and being in an abusive relationship.
“I know I wronged you and I’m so sorry,” she said, apologising to Kamiyah and her biological mother. “And so many days — so many days — I just wanted to pick that child up and say, ‘Get in the car. Let’s go.’ I just couldn’t.”
Now a young woman, the kidnap victim asked the court for leniency in sentencing Williams, who could have received life behind bars for her crime. Kamiyah has expressed confusing emotions about the woman she thought was her mother, and the biological mum she never knew.
Detectives acting on a tip to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children interviewed a witness in 2016 who said the daughter claimed she was kidnapped from a Jacksonville hospital as a newborn, according to court documents.
Authorities have said that Kamiyah may have learned about her past in the months before Williams was arrested. She was extradited to Florida in January 2017.
Kamiyah has met her biological parents, but says she still loves Williams.
“My feelings toward my mother will never change,” she said last year.