The operator of an unlicensed clinic in which a 27-year-old mother of four died in January was arrested Friday on charges of second-degree murder and performing illegal abortions, Orange County Dist. Atty. Michael R. Capizzi said 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 murder in the Jan. 19 death of Angela Nieto Sanchez of Orange.
Hanna is charged on three other counts of illegal abortions involving three other women. All the charges against Hanna will be heard during a single trial, Capizzi said.
He said it is rare to file murder and illegal abortion charges in such cases.
“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,” said Capizzi.
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 June 30, but it took a month for officers to find Hanna, 31. She was arrested by Santa Ana police Friday and taken to Orange County Jail, Capizzi said. Her bail was set at $250,000.
Hanna is being represented by Stephen Biskar of the county public defender’s office. Biskar could not be reached for comment, and the clinic’s phone number is no longer in service.
Hanna, who had no medical license, Capizzi said, is accused of causing the death of Sanchez during a botched abortion.
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 sister, Celia Sanchez, 27. Angela Sanchez had been to the clinic for treatment a year before her death, before the birth of her youngest son, family members said.
Relatives also said they doubted that Angela Sanchez was seeking an abortion Jan. 19 when she went into the clinic.
In court testimony Jan. 26, Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard M. King said Hanna gave some type of an injection to Sanchez. King said Sanchez “had some kind of reaction, a violent reaction” as a result of the injection, and died three hours later.
King also said in court 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.
Hanna had previously been charged with other offenses in connection with the operation of the clinic. Those charges include practicing medicine without a license and possession of narcotics, both felonies, and possession of syringes, a misdemeanor.
Capizzi said Hanna could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of the murder charge. He said she could receive up to three years in prison for each conviction of unlawful abortion or attempted abortion.
King said the earlier accusations against Hanna will be replaced with the indictments. Hanna is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.