JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A woman convicted of stealing a newborn from a Florida hospital decades ago described how she did it Friday during her sentencing hearing, testifying that she put the infant in a bag and worried with every step that she would be discovered.
Gloria Williams, 52, faces up to 22 years in prison for kidnapping and interference of custody. The judge said she would announce her sentence on June 8.
Williams testified that when she stole the newborn Kamiyah Mobley in 1998, she had lost custody of her two other children and was in an abusive relationship that led her to miscarry about a month before. After the loss of her pregnancy, she drove to Jacksonville from South Carolina.
She said she had no plans to kidnap a child.
"I felt like I was on autopilot. My life was out of control, I lost everything," she said.
But she had the presence of mind to wear scrubs into a Jacksonville hospital and pose as a nurse to persuade a new mother to hand over her baby. She put the newborn into a bag and left.
"What I remember is I was running, I was walking and at any time someone could grab my arm and say 'What do you have in the bag?'" Williams said.
Williams raised Mobley — who grew up as Alexis Manigo — in South Carolina until her arrest in 2017. She didn't tell her of her true identity until the girl discovered she couldn't get a driver's license because she didn't have a valid birth certificate or Social Security card.
Kamiyah told a friend about it, but not police. Eventually, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received an anonymous tip about Kamiyah's whereabouts, and authorities were alerted.
Williams apologized Friday to Shanara Mobley, the birth mother, who a day earlier testified that Williams should receive a death sentence.
Kamiyah showed up in tears at the first hearing after Williams' arrest. She has spent time with her biological parents since then, but still supports the only mother she knew.
Williams told the girl she abducted that she still loves her.
"I will always love you, always," Williams said to Kamiyah, who was in the courtroom gallery. "But you're not mine. Your mother and father are sitting right here."