Jacksonville, FL - Loving, caring, and God-fearing.
It’s how the friends and family of Gloria Williams described her in court today, while asking a judge to be lenient in sentencing her for the 1998 kidnapping of newborn Kamiyah Mobley from a Jacksonville hospital. She could face up to 22 years in prison, after pleading guilty earlier this year.
“She is a wonderful person who made a mistake. It caught up with her,” says Andre Bolden, who is one of Williams’ sons.
Williams was arrested in early 2017 in South Carolina, where she had been raising Mobley as her own daughter, under the name Alexis Manigo. The arrest came as a shock to those who know her.
“I don’t want to lose my mom off one mistake. It was a heavy mistake,” says her other son, Antoine Bolden.
Both Andre and Antoine told the judge they had good childhoods, splitting their time between Williams and their father, William Bolden. Antoine described Williams as his role model.
“She’s everything I want me wife to be when I get married. She’s genuine, she’s loving, she’s caring,” he says.
Williams’ husband, Wernoskie Conevy Williams, says he had learned about a year before the arrest that Williams had kidnapped Mobley, but he chose not to come forward, in order to support his wife. He joined in her sons in saying Williams made a mistake.
“She deserves a second chance,” Mr. Williams says.
Williams’ pastor and friend, Sheri Yvette-Base White, says everyone who seeks forgiveness from God can get it, and she believes Williams has been using her time in jail to get closer to God.
“We will sin and fall short daily, everyone is going to make a mistake every day. Sin is sin. The deal is, that you repent for your sins and ask for forgiveness,” White says.
She says Williams served several years as a Youth Coordinator for the church, while also playing a prominent role in fundraisers and other church operations. She says Williams had an impact on her life personally- while she was trying to get help from the VA- and she’s seen her have a direct impact on others in the community as well.
“I have not lost a friend, because I know where she is. But I don’t have that ray of sunshine,” White says.
White asking the judge for leniency when sentencing Williams. "That way she can come back and be viable in the church... That way she can come back and spend time with her parents." @ActionNewsJax pic.twitter.com/ey3WFtOpQ6— Christy Turner (@ChristyANJax) May 3, 2018
Williams’ parents also pleaded for leniency.
“If you do the crime, you’ve got to do the time. I just hope it’s not as bad as it might be,” says her father, Wilbert Brown.
Both Brown and his wife Gloria are elderly and sick. Gloria says, before Williams was incarcerated, she would help her with doctors, visit her when she was in the hospital, and more.
“I’m not mad at my daughter. I love her so much, and I miss her,” she says.
Gloria says, if she had known, she would have told Williams to give the child back to her family. They both say the kidnapping is out of character for Williams.
The defense also questioned several witnesses about what they describe as an abusive relationship that Williams was in at the time. Williams’ parents and sons believe that Charles Manigo- the man she led to believe was Kamiyah’s father- was physically, verbally, and mentally abusive, to the point where Williams’ sons had their custody arrangement changed so that they would live away from that home more.
“We understand, yes, something wrong happened. We understand. We don’t know why, but we understand,” White says.
They all offered to support Williams whenever she’s allowed to go back to South Carolina. Her sons said their children miss seeing their grandmother.
“I think she deserves a second chance, I think she shouldn’t get the max. I think she’s at peace with the situation, she made a mistake, she understands that, and putting somebody behind bars for 22 years, that’s a lot when they did so much before they went in,” Antoine Bolden says.
Williams took Mobley from a Jacksonville hospital just a few hours after she was born. She told Mobley’s mother that she was a nurse and was taking the newborn to get her temperature checked, when she instead left the hospital with her and never returned. Mobley’s biological parents testified earlier in the day, asking the judge to impose the maximum sentence.
Mobley herself will not testify during the sentencing hearing. Instead, prior interviews she has done have been submitted for the judge’s consideration. Mobley has previously called for leniency for Williams.
The sentencing hearing resumes Friday morning. Stay with WOKV for full coverage.
From what I could hear at the end of testimony today, #KamiyahMobley will NOT testify at the sentencing of #GloriaWilliams. Instead, interviews Kamiyah previously did were submitted for the judge's consideration. pic.twitter.com/xMkcxljwna— Stephanie Brown (@SBrownReports) May 3, 2018
#KamiyahMobley with a smile on her face while Mr. Brown testifies. You can tell she really cares for Mr. and Mrs. Brown, who she thought were her biological grandparents. @ActionNewsJax pic.twitter.com/xvdIWRBQiP— Christy Turner (@ChristyANJax) May 3, 2018