NEW YORK (AP) — A former jail guard pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges she had sex behind bars with an inmate convicted of gunning down two police officers in cold blood — a man her lawyer says she still cares about and who fathered her baby boy, named Justus.
Nancy Gonzalez entered the plea in the Brooklyn courthouse where a jury is considering whether the inmate, Ronell Wilson, should get the death penalty. Another inmate, testifying earlier Wednesday in the Wilson case, claimed that he witnessed Gonzalez standing near his cell and that when she moved away his pants were down around his ankles.
Gonzalez, 29, told a judge on Wednesday she "knew it was unlawful to have sex with (an) inmate that was under my supervision." A plea agreement could clear the way for her to testify in Wilson's death penalty case.
Afterward, when asked about the relationship, Gonzalez kept silent while defense attorney Anthony Rico referenced "Romeo and Juliet" and sought to explain how his client still "feels love" for Wilson.
"People find love in all places," Rico said. "There are some people who may understand that, there are some people who may not."
Gonzalez was arrested in March on charges she intentionally engaged in a sex act with Wilson while working the night shift at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. She became pregnant in June 2012, a few months into the affair, and had Justus in March, shortly after her arrest.
Wilson, 30, was a young gang member on Staten Island when he was arrested in the point-blank shootings of undercover officers James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews in an illegal gun sting gone awry. The officers were shot in the backs of their heads.
A jury found Wilson guilty in 2006. Wilson apologized to the victims' families, telling them "it's in my heart that I'm sorry," before he was sentenced to death. But an appeals court threw out the sentence in 2010, and prosecutors chose to repeat the penalty phase, a proceeding that began last month.
After Wilson was transferred to Brooklyn to await the penalty phase, other inmates reported seeing Gonzalez going in and out of his cell, meeting him in a vacant activity room next to his cell when other inmates were supposed to be sleeping, according to court papers.
In a recorded conversation about Wilson with another inmate, Gonzalez confided, "I took a chance because I was so vulnerable and wanted to be loved and now I am carrying his child," the papers said. She "kind of got sucked into his world" and that "felt like, well, why not give him a child as far as giving him some kind of hope," she added.
Gonzalez faces up to 16 months in prison at sentencing on Oct. 7.