By Kelli Smith
A pregnant woman in the Dallas County jail hoped a judge would lower her bail enough so she could give birth while she wasn’t in the sheriff’s custody.
But state District Judge Chika Anyiam declined in October to reduce the $2 million bail for Isabel Campbell, who is charged with capital murder after police alleged she was the getaway driver for her boyfriend, who is accused of fatally shooting 22-year-old Sergio Maas last year.
Campbell, 18, remains in jail. She answered questions about her case through her mother. She said she was recently taken by the sheriff’s department to a hospital when she went into labor. Campbell said she had her baby boy, was taken back to jail and hasn’t seen her newborn since.
She said she’s a victim of domestic violence and feels she’s being treated unfairly and as if she was the killer. Texas’ law of parties allows for accomplices to face the same charges as the person who caused a death. Campbell said she was promised she wouldn’t be jailed long after she cooperated with police.
The case highlights the complexities of incarceration for pregnant women, who rely on correctional authorities for their care. The state sees a total of about 300 to 400 pregnant women a year in county jails, but only a small percentage deliver their babies in custody, according to the Texas Jail Project, an inmate advocacy nonprofit. County jails in Texas, including in Dallas, have been criticized in the past for their treatment of pregnant women.
Campbell’s attorney, Steven Hayden, said in a motion to reduce her bail that she doesn’t have a criminal record and will accept responsibility for her actions and testify against her boyfriend, Juvencio Solorzano — the accused shooter who police haven’t yet located.
Hayden said the bail was excessive and Campbell’s child, who has a heart condition, would “suffer due to its mother’s unnecessary incarceration.” Campbell said she hasn’t been in criminal trouble in the past, adding that she hasn’t even had a speeding ticket.
“We are all praying for Isabel and working hard seeking mercy from the system for her,” Hayden told The Dallas Morning News.
Anyiam did not respond to requests for comment.
The district attorney’s office didn’t make an offer to Campbell for her testimony and couldn’t agree to a bond amount, according to Hayden’s motion. The Dallas County district attorney’s office also declined to comment, saying it can’t discuss pending cases.
The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department did not respond to requests for the jail’s protocols related to pregnant inmates. Parkland Hospital provides health care services for inmates at the jail.
The Texas Commission on Jail Standards mandates that each jail implement an approved plan for inmate health care services. The plan must include procedures for gynecological care, nutritional requirements, special housing and “the documented use of restraints during labor, delivery and recovery for known pregnant inmates.”
The sheriff must notify the commission if any health care policies or procedures are changed for pregnant inmates, and jail staff must be trained to “identify when a pregnant inmate is in labor and provide access to appropriate care.” Inmates should “promptly” be taken to a hospital when they state they’re in labor or if officials determine they’re in labor, according to the commission.
The Texas Jail Project reported in 2019 that conditions for pregnant women in county jails have improved, but complaints continue about a lack of medical care and inadequate food. Conditions vary by jail, according to the group.
The Dallas County jail had 22 pregnant women in custody as of Aug. 1, according to the latest available monthly report by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. William Turner, an analyst with the commission, declined to provide a more recent report, saying in an email “we’re in transition and hope to resume those reports before too long, but I can’t tell you when.”
The Dallas County jail had the fourth-largest pregnant population in Texas as of Aug. 1, according to the commission’s report. The largest in the state by that point was Harris County, with 50, and then Tarrant County with 38 and Bexar County with 37.
The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department has previously been questioned about its treatment of pregnant women. In 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the Texas Jail Project charged that the Dallas County jail was shackling pregnant inmates during labor and delivery — an accusation the sheriff’s department called “unfounded” at the time.
Campbell said she wasn’t allowed to receive care packages with nutrients for the baby while she was pregnant. The sheriff’s department did not respond to a request for comment.
Solorzano, Campbell’s boyfriend, is accused of fatally shooting Maas on Dec. 1 in northwest Dallas during an attempt to steal Maas’ catalytic converter. Police said Maas and another person heard what sounded like drilling or a weed eater outside, and Maas stood on the balcony of his third-floor apartment, saw people around his car and activated his alarm. Solorzano fired gunshots at Maas, and Maas fell back into the room and died, police allege.
Police later found a message from Campbell’s email account that included a picture of media coverage of the shooting. She wrote “I hope that wasn’t us” followed by “Bruh omg I think it is,” according to an arrest-warrant affidavit.
Police arrested Campbell in July, and released a photo of Solorzano in their search for him. Officers wrote in the affidavit that Campbell voluntarily went to police headquarters for an interview after officers stopped a car to arrest someone she was with on a firearms charge. When officers showed her the messages about the shooting, Campbell said she didn’t want to talk anymore, police said in an affidavit.
Campbell told The News that she was threatened by her boyfriend not to say anything or she’d be killed. She said she later told police all of the details about what happened, and she was promised that officers would find him and she wouldn’t be behind bars for long. She said she also wants Solorzano to be found and for there to be justice.
In his motion to reduce bail, Hayden said that Campbell’s family is “near the limit of their financial means” and Hayden is willing to post $15,000 bond. He said that Campbell had already been taken to hospital while in the jail’s custody for “complications due to the pregnancy.” He didn’t elaborate.
Hayden asked Anyiam to reduce bail and put Campbell on house arrest — with limited release for medical and legal purposes — to avoid complications with the pregnancy, adding that any complications “before, during or after delivery” could best be resolved with Campbell on bond.
Anyiam wrote in court documents Oct. 18 that she “heard both sides” and testimony, but “denies the motion.”
Anyiam has faced scrutiny before for her bail decisions.
Earlier this year, she was criticized by Gov. Greg Abbott, Dallas police Chief Eddie García, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and other police leaders after she reduced bail by 75% for murder suspect Julio Guerrero. Guerrero was jailed last year on charges of murder and aggravated assault in connection with the fatal May 2 shooting of 35-year-old Francisco Villanueva Rodriguez in Far East Dallas and a shooting the following week that wounded a 3-year-old girl.
Anyiam reduced his bail from $2 million to $510,000 in March, which would allow Guerrero to post a $51,000 cash bond for his release. But after news of the reduction circulated, Anyiam reversed course and re-upped the bail a week later. She later recused herself from the cases against him.
Hayden said they’re still trying to get Campbell’s bail reduced “so that she might be a mother to her child” while the case progresses. He said he sends condolences to Maas’ family, adding, “it was a truly tragic and unnecessary event.”
But with Solorzano still missing, he said, the case continues to hit roadblocks.
“We are stuck in a bit of a holding pattern,” Hayden said, “because the real gunman is still at large and wanted.”