Plea deal in 1998 kidnapping case coming Monday?

Gloria Williams' defense attorney asks the jury selection be postponed

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jury selection for Gloria Williams, whose trial on a charge of kidnapping a newborn from a Jacksonville hospital 20 years ago, will not take place Monday as scheduled. Instead, there will be a hearing to discuss a possible plea agreement in the case.

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, a tip led Jacksonville police to a teenager Williams raised in South Carolina as Alexis Manigo, and tests matched her DNA with that of the kidnapped baby.

On Thursday morning, Williams’ defense attorney Diana Johnson asked Judge Marianne Aho to continue Williams' requested hearing Monday to discuss possible disposition of the charges against her: kidnapping and interference with custody.

Aho said if a plea deal is reached, a special hearing would be scheduled, likely later in the week, to review the terms and make sure all parties agree on it. If a plea deal is not reached, a new date would be picked for jury selection.

If Williams were to be convicted at trial, Williams 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.

In a letter entered in evidence and released by the State Attorney's Office this week, Williams' husband wrote to her in jail that he was hoping for 3½ years or less.

Attorneys in this case told News4Jax 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.

In the only case News4Jax 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.

The development in the Williams case comes nearly a week after Aho denied a defense motion to keep evidence in the case sealed from the public. The evidence includes family photos of Alexis Manigo growing up with Williams, letters from both Williams and Manigo, and videotaped interviews with Williams and several of her family members.