Pregnancy used as leverage in criminal case, attorney says

When Trena Williams was charged last fall with first-degree murder and held without bail, she was four months pregnant. Behind bars, inmates get prenatal care.

So when the charges were later reduced to accessory after the fact and she was released on home detention, Circuit Judge Stephen J. Sfekas ordered Williams, 29, to receive prenatal care as one of the conditions of her release.

But even after she'd given birth to a healthy baby girl, prosecutors wanted proof that Williams had received care during her pregnancy, threatening her with jail time if she didn't comply.

Defense attorney Stephen Patrick Beatty cried foul over prosecutorial tactics, at one point calling them "extortion" in open court.

"They've decided the baby is leverage that they could use on her, and that's beyond the pale." Beatty said in an interview, adding that he had no issue with the judge's original order.

The Baltimore state's attorney's office declined to comment on the case or the motion to revoke Williams' home detention. But Assistant State's Attorney Charles Fitzpatrick rescinded his motion prior to last Tuesday's hearing, which he also did not attend.

Defense attorneys who work in Baltimore courts say it's rare for pregnant women to face serious charges, so few detainees have prenatal care as a condition of release.

Beatty called the move part of a continued attempt by authorities to persuade Williams to give up information on Davon Sanford, the man charged with the murder of Terrell Mitchell on

Sept. 6 in the 1200 block of W. North Ave.

Police said in charging documents that surveillance tape shows Williams accepting a gun from the shooter, but Beatty said no such exchange is clear in the footage. Beatty said Williams should never have been charged with murder in the first place, but authorities were trying to pressure her.

He also said it wasn't the first time authorities had involved the baby. In a videotaped interrogation by city homicide detectives, they repeatedly ask her if she wanted to have the baby in jail.

Presented with the proof of prenatal care at the hearing, Sfekas said he was pleased and agreed to take Williams off home detention — which was costing her $500 a month — and place her on supervised release. Sfekas said he believes being a new mother makes her unlikely to flee.

Sun reporter Ian Duncan contributed to this report.

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