by Douglas Ankney
Twenty-six-year-old pretrial detainee and capital murder defendant Latoni Daniel gave birth to a baby boy on May 29, 2019. But she wasn’t pregnant when she was processed into the Coosa County jail in Alabama 17 months earlier, and claimed she didn’t remember having sex while incarcerated.
Daniel’s attorney, Mickey McDermott, said that after her arrest Daniel was prescribed seizure medication which causes her to sleep for prolonged periods, and someone raped her at the jail while she was unconscious.
“She’s reported she’s a rape victim and no one is investigating,” McDermott said. Since giving birth, Daniel reported that she wasn’t receiving proper medical care, had missed doctor’s appointments, suffered from abusive behavior by a nurse and was underweight.
Daniel, an honorably discharged Army National Guard veteran, was charged with capital murder in December 2017. She was in a car when her boyfriend and co-defendant, LaDaniel Tuck, allegedly robbed and killed 87-year-old Thomas Virgil Chandler, a combat veteran. Even though Daniel did not kill him, she was allegedly the getaway driver.
Thus, under Alabama law, she is just as culpable for Chandler’s death as an accomplice. However, Coosa County District Attorney Jeff Willis – who is seeking the death penalty against Daniel – said, “You may have read somewhere that she was a getaway driver. That is not a correct statement.” He declined further comment.
Willis has nearly unlimited discretion as to whether to seek the death penalty. According to the Circuit Court clerk, he has sought the death penalty only one other time in the last five years, and was unsuccessful in that case.
Since Daniel was in jail on capital murder charges, she wasn’t allowed contact with visitors; she could communicate with family and friends only through letters. Under Alabama law, as in most jurisdictions, it is illegal for jail employees to have sex with prisoners.
Daniel was moved to the neighboring Talladega County Jail (TCJ) in December 2018. At that time, Coosa County Sheriff Terry Wilson told TCJ officials to give Daniel a pregnancy test. Wilson retired shortly thereafter. Talladega County Deputy Joshua Tubbs said Daniel had been transferred to TCJ due to “an ongoing investigation” – she was reportedly involved in fights at the Coosa County jail and had hurt an elderly prisoner.
“She wasn’t pregnant when she went to jail,” noted Terrell Ransaw, Daniel’s brother. He also said Daniel neither had seizures nor took seizure medication before she was arrested. “A crime is a crime, regardless of who it happens to,” Ransaw added. “She’s giving birth to a child she didn’t plan to have. Nobody asks to be raped or drugged.”
However, during a July 2019 press conference, Coosa County Sheriff Michael Howell contended that Daniel had consensual sex with a male prisoner in order to get pregnant and obtain leniency in her criminal case – including, possibly, release on bond. According to Sheriff Howell, Daniel “conspired to become pregnant” and her claim of being raped at the jail was “completely untrue and fabricated.”
Sources: deathpenaltyinfo.org, theroot.com, al.com, theappeal.org
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