By Dave Andrusko
As I warned a couple of months back writing about the trial of Annette Morales-Rodriguez, brace yourself. This is a grim, ugly, tragic story.
In September the 34-year-old woman was convicted of two counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the October 2011 murders of 23-year-old Maritza Ramirez-Cruz (who was in her 40th week of pregnancy) and her unborn baby. On Thursday, Judge David Borowski sentenced the Milwaukee woman to life in prison with no chance of parole.
“This was a violent, vicious, horrific offense,” said Judge Borowski. “In my view, this was the defendant engaging in premeditated evil.”
According to trial testimony, “Morales-Rodriguez was distraught over her inability to give her boyfriend a son, had already pretended to have two miscarriages and was faking a third pregnancy when she devised a plan to abduct the woman, carve the child from her womb and pass it off as her own,” the Associated Press (AP) reported.
The details are indeed horrific, so if you have a weak stomach, stop here.
Morales-Rodriguez did not testify at the trial and the defense did not deny she had attacked Ramirez-Cruz. “Instead, they argued that the 2011 deaths of Ramirez-Cruz and her baby were reckless but not intentional because Morales-Rodriguez didn’t mean for the victims to die,” the AP reported. A videotaped police interview was a key piece of evidence.
Elaborate details would be gratuitous but the core is that Morales-Rodriguez found Ramirez-Cruz, a mother of three, at a Latino community center. After offering her a ride, she took her to her home where she killed her and pulled out a stillborn baby.
“In a 911 call played for jurors, Morales-Rodriguez frantically told a dispatcher that she had just given birth to a baby who wasn’t breathing,” the AP reported. However an exam proved that Morales-Rodriguez had not given birth.
“Ramirez-Cruz’s husband, Christian Mercado, had moved his family to Wisconsin from Arecibo, Puerto Rico, about two years ago,” according to the AP. “He testified that he kissed his wife goodbye on the morning she disappeared and told her he loved her. He called her a few hours later because he was worried because about pain she’d been having. It was the last time they spoke.”
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