Release from Prison Brings New Heartache for Legal Immigrant

Aug 17, 2018

Supporters are expressing disappointment over the fate of Trudy Munoz – a woman convicted of shaking a baby in her care.  She completed ten years behind bars this week – still insisting she did nothing to harm the boy at her daycare center in Northern Virginia.  But her release brought no joy.

Munoz with daughters Renata and Jimena.
Credit Trudy Munoz

The Innocence Project made a last-minute plea to Virginia’s governor, asking him to pardon Trudy Munoz – an immigrant who faced deportation because she was convicted of a felony.  Since her trial, medical experts have raised strong doubts about the diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome, and evidence not heard by the jury could well have caused the child to suffer a seizure. 

Attorney Deirdre Enright was hopeful. “We were told by the parole board that it would be Governor Northam himself who dealt with this case," she recalls.  "They thought that we would be in the best possible hands, because he was a pediatric neurologist. His comments suggest to us that he has not reviewed the case, and his comments about shaken baby syndrome suggest that he is not aware of the controversy.”

Her two grown daughters, her sister and brother in law went to Fluvanna Prison Monday morning, hoping to take Trudy home, and they too were optimistic. “The daughters went in to fill out the paperwork, and they said your mother will be released to the right," Enright says. "They actually had many minutes of believing that she was going to leave.”

But as the family members stood, watching through a chain link fence, crying, Munoz came out in handcuffs, surrounded by armed ICE agents who drove her to the Norfolk City Jail, because they said  all of the ICE facilities were overcrowded.

Unless Northam  changes his mind, Enright says her client could be jailed for a month awaiting trial for violating the terms of her immigration and then be deported. The Innocence Project hopes to persuade a prosecutor to put an ankle bracelet on Munoz, allowing her to spend a couple of weeks with her daughters before she’s forced to leave the country for good.