MIAMI (WSVN) - After closing arguments Wednesday, a jury found a woman accused of killing her baby in 1990 guilty on both counts.
Cameras rolled as a jury member read the verdict in the trial of Ana Maria Cardona: “We the jury in Miami-Dade County, Florida, find the defendant, Ana Maria Cardona, as to count 1, first-degree murder, guilty. As to count 2, aggravated child abuse, guilty.”
A visibly distraught Cardona reacted with an emotional outburst in Spanish moments after learning her fate, just four hours after closing arguments were delivered in the nearly 30-year-old case.
Cardona was accused of killing her 3-year-old son Lazaro Figueroa, known as “Baby Lollipops.”
The child’s battered and bloody body was found in the bushes outside of a Miami Beach home in November 1990. Detectives called the victim “Baby Lollipops” before they could identify him based of the design on his shirt.
This is Cardona’s third murder trial. She was sentenced to death twice for her alleged role in the boy’s death.
However, both death sentence convictions were overturned.
Cardona remained silent in previous trials but took the stand this time. On Monday, she claimed that she is innocent and that her girlfriend, Olivia Gonzalez, was solely responsible for the murder.
“Olivia is an aggressive person,” Cardona said through a translator. “She’s a monster, she’s a monster.”
Her defense attorney also blames Gonzalez for the murder.
“Even if she was abusing Lazaro herself, the killing of Lazaro was the independent act of Olivia, not Ana,” said defense attorney Steven Yermish. “What killed him at that time in those days was the blow to the head at the hand of Olivia Gonzalez with a baseball bat.”
Gonzalez took a plea deal for her role in the child’s death, served time in jail and is now free.
On Tuesday, Cardona told her side of the story regarding what led to the death of her son.
She had previously said that the boy’s death was an accident. She claimed that her 3-year-old hit his head after falling from a bed, and that’s when she dumped his body.
Not so, argued prosecutors. “This child was being killed for years,” said prosecutor Reid Rubin. “He was being starved to death, malnourished and abused. And his little heart could have given out at any time. She intended for him to be dead.”
Rubin asked the jury to make a decision based on the evidence. “He was starved and tortured and murdered, and she is responsible,” he said, “and ladies and gentlemen, today is the day that I ask you, based on the evidence and the law, to hold her responsible to the full extent of the law.”
After the verdict was read, Cardona adamantly denied she killed her son, telling Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Miguel de la O no one knows what she has been through.
De la O sentenced Cardona to life in prison, and also had some stern words for her.
“Your actions were monstrous,” he said. “My mind recoils at the hellish existence you put Lazaro through the last year of his life.”
Cardona’s family remained silent as they left the courthouse, Wednesday night.
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