JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A woman convicted of kidnapping a newborn baby from a Jacksonville hospital over 20 years ago tried to convince an appeals court to reduce her 18-year sentence.
The court denied Gloria Williams' motion.
Williams argued in her appeal that she had just come through a “devastating miscarriage” and was dealing with postpartum depression to the point she was “rendered temporarily incompetent” when she posed as a hospital employee on July 10, 1998, and took hours-old Kamiyah Mobley from her mother's arms before walking out of the hospital and driving to South Carolina.
Williams, who pleaded guilty to kidnapping and interference with child custody, filed the appeal last October, saying the 18-year sentence she was given was excessive, unreasonable and disproportionate to the crime.
She said Kamiyah “grew up in a happy home and was afforded tender love and care” and that the girl she raised as her daughter, Alexis Manigo, spoke in her favor during the sentencing hearing.
Williams argued that a sentence of 50.7 to 67.6 months would have been fair.
Williams filed the motion for a reduced sentence herself. Her lawyers from the trial filed a brief saying that "there are no arguable issues for appeal."
The appeals court agreed with the attorneys, finding that “there is no arguable issue for reversal” of Williams' sentence, and adding that her arguments were “meritless” and the sentence was lawful.
18-year secret unravels
During a sentencing hearing, Williams said she didn't tell the Kamiyah her true identity until she discovered she couldn't get a driver's license because she didn't have a valid birth certificate or Social Security card.
Williams admitted she took the baby from the hospital at a time when her life was spiraling out of control. Williams said she was coping with depression and an abusive relationship.
She also apologized to Kamiyah and the girl's biological parents. She said if she could go back in time, she would not have taken the baby.
"I know I wronged you and I'm so sorry, and so many days, 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," Williams said.
Shanara Mobley was very emotional during her testimony. She shared how the kidnapping impacted her. She was suicidal and is still hurting years later.
“I'm still hurting when you're reaching out to my child. This is my child. I am your mother Kamiyah! I am your mother,” cried Mobley.
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The girl abducted nearly two decades ago, now a young woman raised under a false identity, has formally changed her name back to Kamiyah.
Kamiyah had hoped the court would impose a lenient sentence on the woman who raised her, but remained far away during the sentencing.
Her paternal great-grandmother, Barbara Stewart, told News4Jax that Kamiyah stayed in North Carolina, not wanting to attend the sentencing because she did not want to have to decide whether to sit with her birth family or the family that raised her.
Stewart said Kamiyah was left in an unimaginable position and has a long road ahead of her.
“Some things got to be worked out still, because she loves the lady that had taken her away and she loves her mother," Stewart said. "And you know, sometimes, it’s just going to take time for it to heal."
Stewart said she believes Williams is sorry for what she did.
"You know, the lady that had her did take care of her, and thank God for that. But still that don’t make it right," she said.