From [DPIC] A Black woman who may have been raped by guards has given birth after being impregnated in the Coosa County jail while awaiting trial on capital murder charges. LaToni Daniel (pictured), an honorably discharged Army National Guard veteran who has been in pretrial custody without bail for more than seventeen months, had been prescribed sedatives in the prison for a supposed seizure disorder, and the medication prolonged her sleep. She first learned she was pregnant in December 2018 after having been transferred to a new jail, and she gave birth to a baby boy in late May. Daniel’s lawyers said she had no memory of having sex while in jail.
Daniel was prescribed sedatives for the first time after she was arrested. However, according to Daniel’s brother, Terrell Ransaw, she “never had any seizures before she went to jail.” Mickey McDermott, a lawyer who is representing Daniel in a potential civil suit, said Daniel “has no memory of having sex at all, so what we’re assuming based on the information we have is that with some of the medication, she was knocked out and someone raped her. ... She’s reported she’s a rape victim and no one is investigating.” Under Alabama law, it is illegal for jail employees to have sex with prisoners, even if it is consensual. The father of the child is unknown.
Daniel was transferred from Coosa County jail to Talladega County jail in December and Coosa County Sheriff Terry Wilson told Talladega officials to give Daniel a pregnancy test. Talladega County Chief Deputy Joshua Tubbs told The Appeal that Daniel had been moved as a result of “an ongoing investigation.” In March, Daniel requested bail so she could give birth and recover outside of the jail while awaiting trial, but a bail determination was not made before she gave birth. Daniel had been indicted on capital murder charges in April 2018, and Alabama law requires judges to presume capital defendants guilty for the purposes of setting bail. In capital cases, the minimum bail is $50,000. She says she was in a car when her boyfriend and co-defendant, Ladaniel Tuck, robbed and shot an elderly white man, 87-year-old Thomas Virgil Chandler. It is undisputed that Daniel – who court records describe as an alleged getaway driver – did not kill anyone, and she maintains that she did not know Tuck intended to kill Chandler. Alabama allows death sentences for accomplices in murder cases that also involve robbery, kidnapping, rape, or burglary. Jon Taylor, Daniel’s defense lawyer in the criminal case, told The Appeal he found it “somewhat surprising that it came out of the grand jury as capital murder and even more surprising they’re going after the death penalty. There’s nothing in my mind that [says] she should qualify for the death penalty. … I believe it was unknowing conduct and I believe she was acting under duress.”
The charges against Daniel are even more out of the ordinary because of the declining use of the death penalty in Alabama. Alabama imposed three death sentences in 2018, down from a peak of 25 in 1998. Coosa County prosecutors have sought only one death sentence in the last five years, and the defendant in that case was not sentenced to death. Alabama has executed 18 African-American prisoners for killing white victims and only one white prisoner for killing an African-American victim. Both Daniel and Tuck are African American.