MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The mother at the center of South Florida’s infamous “Baby Lollipops” murder case is back in court as prosecutors seek a third conviction against Ana Maria Cardona.
State prosecutors spent the morning laying out their case against 56-year-old Cardona in opening statements.
“His left arm was so badly injured that the muscle from elbow to the shoulder had fused into his bone, making it impossible for this young child to extend his arm,” said prosecutor Christine Hernandez.
A Florida Power & Light employee who found the body of 3-year-old Lazaro Figueroa was the first witness to take the stand.
“I noticed it looked like a torso in the bushes,” said the worker. “Well, it was a couple days after Halloween. I kind of thought it was a Halloween prop.”
The worker described finding the toddler’s body all those years ago.
Cardona’s defense attorney told the jury they need to focus on her partner.
“The person who killed that child is not Ana Cardona, she could not kill her son. It was Olivia Gonzalez killed this child,” said defense attorney Manny Alvarez.
Gonzalez, Cardona’s partner at the time, served nearly 20 years in prison for second-degree murder and has been a free woman for the past nine years.
Cardona’s two previous convictions and death sentences have been tossed out by the Florida Supreme Court so this time; prosecutors are seeking a life in prison sentence if she is convicted.
She was given a death sentence in 2011 after she was found guilty of first-degree murder and aggravated abuse in the beating death of her 3-year-old son Lazaro Figueroa. During that sentencing, Cardona made a statement in which she said she wished she could change her life and the life of her son. Cardona said she wished her son “could have been blessed with a better mother, one who would have protected him and always been there for him.” She also explained how she was addicted to drugs and said she was a coward.
The Florida Supreme Court overturned that conviction due to procedural problems, as well as her first conviction and death penalty in 1992.
Figueroa was killed in November of 1990 when Cardoza was 29.
His body was found dumped beneath a hedge in the yard of a Miami Beach home. The boy had been starved, beaten and burned. The boy, whose identity was not known when his body was discovered, was given the name “Baby Lollipops” because of his tiny white t-shirt with an array of lollipops on the front.
Figueroa weighed only 18 pounds when he was murdered, half the weight of what he should have been.