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O.C. Clinic Death Leads to Murder Arrest

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The operator of an unlicensed clinic in which a 27-year-old mother of four died last January was arrested Friday on charges of second-degree murder and performing illegal abortions, Orange County Dist. Atty. Michael R. Capizzi announced Friday.

Capizzi said the Orange County Grand Jury indicted the operator of the Santa Ana clinic, Alicia Ruiz Hanna, on one count of unlawful abortion and one count of second-degree murder in the death of Angela Nieto Sanchez of Orange on Jan. 19.

Hanna is charged with three other counts of illegal abortion. Those alleged abortions or attempted abortions were on three other women, none of whom died, Capizzi said. All of the charges against Hanna will be tried at the same time during a single trial, he said.

Capizzi said it is rare to file murder and illegal abortion charges in such cases.

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“There has been an extensive investigation (of Sanchez’s death) by the Santa Ana Police Department and this office, and once it was all put together, we went to the grand jury,” Capizzi said.

Capizzi said his office had spent six months investigating the Hanna case and bringing it to the grand jury “because this is an extremely serious matter, with obvious potential loss of human life.”

He said the grand jury returned its indictments on June 30, but it took a month for officers to locate and apprehend Hanna, 31. She was located by Santa Ana police on Friday, arrested, and taken to the Orange County Jail, Capizzi said. Her bail was set at $250,000, Capizzi said.

Hanna is being represented by Stephen Biskar of the county public defender’s office. Biskar is on vacation and could not be reached for comment. An official in the public defender’s office said that no one else could comment on the charges brought against Hanna.

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Hanna, who is neither a doctor nor a nurse, is accused of causing the death of Sanchez during a botched abortion. Capizzi said she has no license to practice medicine of any kind.

Sanchez, a housekeeper, died at the Clinica Feminina de la Comunidad as her 12-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son waited for her in the lobby. The clinic is in the 1300 block of South Bristol Street.

Sanchez was about one month pregnant and in good health when she went to the clinic, according to her 27-year-old sister, Celia Sanchez. Angela Sanchez had been to the clinic for treatment a year before to her death, before the birth of her youngest son, family members said.

Family members also said they doubted that Angela Sanchez was seeking an abortion on Jan. 19 when she went into the clinic.

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In court testimony on Jan. 26, Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard M. King said that Hanna gave some type of an injection to Sanchez inside the clinic. King said Sanchez “had some kind of reaction, a violent reaction” as a result of the injection, and died there three hours later.

King also said in court on Jan. 26 that a receptionist at the clinic estimated that Hanna had performed abortions “in the double digits” without the presence of a doctor or nurse.

Before Friday, Hanna had been charged with other offenses in connection with the operation of the clinic. Those charges included practicing medicine without a license and possession of narcotics, both felonies, and possession of syringes, a misdemeanor.

The second-degree murder indictment handed up by the grand jury is a much more serious charge. Capizzi said Hanna could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of the murder charge. He said she could receive as much as three years in prison for each conviction of unlawful abortion or attempted abortion.

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King said Friday that none of the earlier charges against Hanna had gone to trial. He said all of the earlier accusations against Hanna will now be replaced with the indictments handed up by the grand jury.

Hanna is scheduled to be arraigned in Orange County Superior Court on Monday.


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