Starr County woman falsely charged with murder after abortion appears with attorneys

Lizelle Gonzalez listens as a statement is read aloud by her lawyer Cecilia Garza during a press conference on Tuesday, April 2, 2024, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])
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EDINBURG — Attorneys for a Starr County mother who made national headlines in 2022 after she was arrested for a self-induced abortion held a news conference Tuesday about the federal lawsuit she filed last week.

Lizelle Gonzalez, who was falsely indicted and jailed on ​​on April 7, 2022 on a murder charge for having a self-induced abortion, sat with her attorneys, I. Cecilia Garza and Veronica S. Martinez, of Garza Martinez, PLLC, inside their offices on East Sprague Street in Edinburg.

In a room full of local media, Gonzalez’s attorneys read from a prepared statement.

“The legal basis of Miss Gonzalez’s lawsuit is not about her reproductive rights,” Garza said. “The legal basis of this lawsuit is the unconstitutional violation of her basic Civil Rights when she was arrested and charged with a crime that does not exist in the state of Texas.”

Garza cited section 19.06 of the Texas Penal Code, which covers criminal homicide. The section reads, “This chapter does not apply to the death of an unborn child if the conduct charged is conduct committed by the mother of the unborn child.”

“While there is great debate about whether Miss Gonzalez should or should not be able to make that decision, there is absolutely no debate that her decision did not violate the laws of the state of Texas, and her conduct was not criminal,” Garza continued. “Miss Gonzalez was targeted. She was prosecuted, and she was persecuted by the district attorney in Starr County, his assistant and the county of Starr.”

“We don’t know whether it was for personal reasons or political reasons, but their actions cannot be characterized and will not be characterized simply as a mistake.”

The attorneys filed a federal lawsuit in McAllen federal court on behalf of Gonzalez against Starr County, District Attorney Gocha A. Ramirez and Assistant District Attorney Alexandria Lynn Barrera.

Gonzalez, who was previously identified in jail and court records as Lizelle Herrera, spent three days in jail before the Starr County district attorney dismissed the unfounded charges. She is seeking $1,000,000 in damages over the claims made against her.

Lizelle Gonzalez, middle, listens as a statement is read aloud by her lawyer Cecilia Garza, second from left, during a press conference on Tuesday, April 2, 2024, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Martinez described Gonzalez as someone with a family, a good job and no criminal history prior to her arrest. She said that the charges against her client and the resulting attention have had lasting effects on Gonzalez.

“She was told that she was going to be charged with murder, and her bond was set at $500,000,” Martinez said. “She was confused, scared, angry, and the three days that she spent in the Starr County Jail were complete misery. It took such a toll on her physical and mental health that Miss Gonzalez had to be transported to the hospital in the emergency room for hyperventilation and shortness of breath on her second day at the county jail.”

Martinez said that her client was released from jail after she posted the $500,000 bond, not because the charges were dismissed.

“Lizelle’s life was forever changed by the blatant violation of her Civil Rights,” Martinez said. “Today we’re talking about Lizelle. Tomorrow, it could be you or someone you love. We will not sit on the sidelines and allow this abuse of power to continue.”

Garza said that Ramirez and Barrera have both been served with the lawsuit. The county has yet to be served because Starr County Judge Eloy Vera has been unavailable and his staff was instructed “not to accept service of the lawsuit at this time.”

No questions were taken during the news conference. Gonzalez was asked if she would like to make a statement, but she shook her head and said, “No.”

As previously reported, the State Bar of Texas fined and imposed a probated suspension against Ramirez in February over the indictment.

Lizelle Gonzalez, middle, listens as a statement is read aloud by her lawyer Cecilia Garza, second from left, during a press conference on Tuesday, April 2, 2024, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])