[UPDATE] Dying Woman Released From Prison

By: Jennifer Milton; Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida Email
By: Jennifer Milton; Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida Email

[UPDATE] 1-7 1:00PM --

Late last night Betsie Gallardo was released from the prison hospital ward where she had been held for the last week. Wearing street clothes provided by her mother, Betsie was wheeled outside to a waiting car and was finally able to leave behind the shackles, guards, and bars that had been her existence for the last 13 months.

Betsie traveled to a Miami hospice where she will remain until she can be transferred back to Indiana. She is in great spirits, but exhausted from her illness and her recent ordeals.

Pictures of her release are attached above.


"I will offer with every ounce of sincerity I can, that I am deeply sorry about what my daughter did. That had to be a horribly frightening thing and no one deserves to be treated that way."

Jessica Bussert reaches out to Tracy Brown and her family, apologizing for her daughter's vicious attack on the Collier County deputy, which ultimately could have put her in an early grave.

27-year-old Betsie Gallardo (gah-yar-do), who was born HIV positive, bit the deputy while she was intoxicated, breaking Brown's skin.

Shortly after receiving her prison sentence, Gallardo was diagnosed with stage four gallbladder cancer and now, her time is running out.

Supporters and lawmakers advocated for her release on Wednesday, and the Florida Parole Commission agreed to let Gallardo go to a south Florida hospice, under the condition that she will eventually move back to her Indiana home and remain on house arrest.

"I can't wait to see that shackle come off her leg, and I'm going to take her in my arms, and I'm sure we're going to laugh and cry and sing praises and just hold each other," said Bussert.

A representative from the Florida Parole Commission says the commission's decision to release Gallardo should not be interpreted as condoning her behavior, but say their concerns for the public's safety are alleviated because of the severe decline in her health.

Under Florida law, it is a felony for HIV-infected people to knowingly transmit bodily fluids that may infect another person with the virus.


The News Service of Florida


A terminally ill Florida inmate born with HIV will be released from prison where she was serving a five-year sentence for biting a sheriff’s deputy, the Florida Parole Commission voted Wednesday.

By a 2-1 vote, the commission voted to grant a medical release to Betsie Gallardo, 27, who was diagnosed earlier this year with stage four cancer and is expected to live only a few more months.

Gallardo’s mother, Jessica Bussert, has been trying to gain release for her daughter, whom she adopted from Haiti 17 years ago, since Gallardo was diagnosed with gall bladder cancer that tests showed in March had spread to her liver, ovaries and other organs.

A firefighter from Lafayette, Ind., Bussert asked commissioners to show compassion by allowing her to take her daughter home. Unable to grant an unconditional release, the commission instead voted to allow Gallardo to be released to a Miami hospice while seeking approval by Indiana corrections officials to return.

Gallardo was in prison for biting a sheriff’s deputy, breaking the skin and raising fears that the deputy may have been infected with HIV.

“Quite frankly, my daughter should have received a harsh punishment. That is not in question,” Bussert said after the hearing. “The question is should it have been a life sentence and I don’t believe it should. I’m just asking for a few weeks to be with her. I want her last days to be around those who love her.”

The release came over the objections of law enforcement representatives, including the Collier County sheriff’s deputy Gallardo bit while in custody in Naples following an intoxicated encounter with police.

Collier County Deputy Tracy Brown, bitten while restraining Gallardo to keep her from harming others, said in a letter to the commission that her life was turned upside down by the incident.

A mother, Brown said she has been forced to endure painful treatments and the mental anguish of knowing she might have become infected. Though she so far has tested negative, Brown said she’s also concerned about the long-term impact of the treatments themselves.

“I, along with others, suffer like Ms. Gallardo herself has suffered from her illness,” Brown wrote. “For this reason, I offer empathy for her situation and pray that you can feel empathy for my situation.”

Gallardo was arrested in August 2008 in Naples on a charge of child neglect after leaving her boyfriend's child home alone for more than 30 minutes. Prosecutors later dropped the child neglect charges but Gallardo was convicted of battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence.

Florida law makes it a third degree felony for HIV positive defendants to transfer body fluids in the commission of a violent act. Gallardo received the maximum five- year sentence and was scheduled for release in May 2014. She was serving her sentence in Broward Correctional Facility, but last week was moved to a secure area of the Kendall Regional Medical Center.

Several Democratic state lawmakers had taken an interest in the case, and Reps. Hazelle Rogers, D-Lauderdale Lakes, Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg and Daphne Campbell, D-Miami, all urged the panel to grant the woman’s release.

Bussert said her daughter’s actions were indefensible and later offered an apology to Brown, her family and friends.

“From the bottom of my heart, I am sincerely sorry for the pain and suffering my daughter caused them. There is nothing I can do to take that away just like there is nothing I can do to take away my daughter’s cancer.”

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by GV Location: Ga on Jan 10, 2011 at 04:53 AM
    YUY,it is an assault to bite ANYONE whether you have hiv or not.She was convicted of it.What part do you not understand?
  • by Anonymous Location: Tally on Jan 8, 2011 at 05:54 PM
    I understand she just bit the officer, biting is not the big issue the issue is she has HIV. HIV is spread through blood and bodily fluid, however it is not transmitted through saliva! How do you know the person before you in the wal-mart bathroom is not infected. I would worry more about the bite itself, the human mouth is FULL of bacteria. On the other hand, what about the thousands of other inmates dying and cant be release. You do the crime, you do the time
  • by brenda jones Location: tally. on Jan 7, 2011 at 10:16 PM
    YUY-go to bed and sleep it off.
  • by free all inmates Location: miss. on Jan 7, 2011 at 10:02 PM
    different prisioner release story. now they are saying that the 2 sisters that were locked up in mississippi and released where the other one could get a transplant. now they are saying they dont know if they are a match. it was just cousting the state 2 mich money to house her.
  • by shelia davis Location: msm. on Jan 7, 2011 at 09:58 PM
    YUY--honey sugar baby sweetheart WHATEVER--AIDS can be given to another person by biteing and slobbering on the bite. IDIOT do some research yourself. THAT IS OLD NEWS.
  • by ETurnage Location: Tallahassee on Jan 7, 2011 at 08:27 PM
    Good. One less mouth to feed out of our taxes. The sooner she's in Indiana the better. But along with that, the Governor of Louisianna is paroling and sending two more violent felons ( sisters no less ) to go on our welfare and assistance tab. Wouldn't it be great if we could send them back?
  • by Anonymous on Jan 7, 2011 at 07:02 PM
    Most people obviously have no idea how the system works and the fact that people (convicted felons) are released on Conditional Medical Release (CMR) ALL the time. Inmates who fit a certain criteria, namely those who do not have capital offenses, and are diagnosed to die within a short period of time are all eligible to be released on CMR if they are approved by the Parole Commission. So if any of you have a problem with this you should voice your dismay with the PC. The only reason this one situation is even making headlines is because it involved a police officer. For some screwed up reason, people think that this person deserves to not be released on CMR simply because the victim was a cop. Basically what this says is that a cop's life is worth more than any other human being. If this person bit a defenseless, homeless crackhead on the street it would not be making waves. Instead, it involves a TRAINED officer in defensive tactics, which warrants this person to not be releasd?
  • by oh my on Jan 7, 2011 at 05:40 PM
    YUY - you're a fool. I guarantee you that if it was YOU that had been bitten you wouldn't be saying things like it's a FACT this and a FACT that. You're just blowing smoke and have no idea what you're talking about. Shut up and sit down.
  • by YUY Location: Tallahassee on Jan 7, 2011 at 01:57 PM
    GV, sweethart I am not talking about the LAW. I am talking about the fact that it has been proven that HIV is not transmitted in this way. Learn about something before you call people an idiot. Learn the proven ways to contract HIV, so you don't become a stat of HIV. Does the woman have HIV that was bitten, according to the story -NO, fact proven again. I understand her panic, but a fact is a fact!
  • by Anonymous on Jan 7, 2011 at 01:15 PM
    Anonymous on Jan 7, 2011 at 01:48 PM, Where do you find out about funeral expenses.. I've seen where it has gone both ways in Florida. Sometimes the State pays and sometimes the family pays. I'm not sure what the law is but it seems like if they can find any family, they have to pay for the funeral.
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