Ana Maria Cardona was found guilty of murder and aggravated child abuse in killing of 3-year-old Lazaro Figueroa.
(Florida Department of Law Enforcement via AP, File)
A Florida mom, on Wednesday was convicted a third time of brutally abusing her toddler for the fatal beating of the boy, who became known as “Baby Lollipops” in a case that riveted Miami decades ago.
Members of the jury found 56-year-old Ana Maria Cardona guilty of murder and aggravated child abuse in killing of 3-year-old Lazaro Figueroa, whose emaciated body was found, hidden in the bushes in Miami Beach in November 1990.
The boy was beaten during his short life and was the hunger, with a weight of only 18 pounds. His body was covered with bumps and bruises and cigarette burns. His skull was fractured, and his left arm was permanently bent at a 90-degree angle. The medical examiner called the child torture, according to testimony.
“After suffering for years, months, days of continuous abuse by her, under her watch, Lazaro inevitably withered and died. And lay in the mud until his heart stopped beating,” prosecutor Reid Rubin said in a closing argument. “It was only a matter of time before he wound death of her.”
Cardona is twice condemned to death in the previous tests. After her first trial in 1992, Cardona became the first woman in Florida history to be sentenced to the death penalty for the murder of her own child. But both convictions were overturned by the Florida Supreme Court, which up to this third test.
Breaking: Ana Maria Cardona found guilty in the death of 3-year-old son in #BabyLollipops trial. @CBSMiami pic.twitter.com/IbwJNZobDT
— Oralia Ortega (@oraliaortega) December 14, 2017
She is facing a life prison sentence because prosecutors chose not to bring the death penalty back in.
Trial evidence showed that Cardona had other children that they don’t abuse it. The reason for Lazaro suffering, Rubin said, was that his father was a drug dealer who was killed by rivals — and with his death, Cardona lost a lavish lifestyle she had been enjoying until then.
“She was angry and hateful, and they took it out on an innocent young child was her personal whipping boy. It escalated, more and more,” the prosecutor said. “Lazarus is dead because his mother did not love him.”
Cardona testified in her own defense that her female lover, Olivia Gonzalez, was responsible for Lazaro’s death. Trial evidence showed that Gonzalez and Cardona fled to central Florida after the boy died, also enjoy a trip to Disney World, before their arrest.
BREAKING: Ruling in the Baby Lollipops murder. GUILTY 1st Degree Murder – for Ana Maria Cardona — torture and murder of the son in 1990. Full coverage on @nbc6 app. pic.twitter.com/qjD8h7iRNN
— Eric Shepard (@EricShepard6) December 14, 2017
Lawyer Steve Yermish said in his closing argument that the Cardona is a poor mother and of measures taken against Lazaro that amounted to child abuse. But he said that they do not have the death of her son.
“I can only assume that you are angry with Ana Cardona. And you have every right to be. Ana was a bad mother. She failed as a mother. But you can’t decide this case, because you or I or anyone is angry at Ana for her failures,” Yermish said. “The costs of increased child abuse can have proven. The cost of the murder.”
Not able to identify him in the first instance, the officers called the boy “Baby Lollipops” after the T-shirt he was wearing. It took more than a month for the researchers to teach Lazaro the identity and the track of the two women. Their big break came when a neighbor who had cared for Lazaro recognized him from the police flyers.
Gonzalez testified in the previous studies, but not this time. She was 14 years in prison for her role in Lazaro’s abuse if you live with Cardona. She was never charged with killing him.
Cardona told investigators after her arrest that Lazaro hit his head falling out of bed, and that she hid his body in the hope not to lose the custody of her other children. This week, she said that was not the truth.