MIAMI (CBSMiami) – More testimony Tuesday in the trial of a mother accused of murdering her 3-year-old son back in 1990.
The woman, Ana Maria Cardona, took the stand for the second day. She continued to recant her 1990 statement to police that her son, Lazaro Figueroa, had fallen off a bed and hit his head and that she dumped him in bushes on Miami Beach. Cardona claims a detective psychologically wore her down.
“I answered what he was saying. I repeated what he told me. That’s what he wanted to hear and that’s what he wanted me to say, and that’s what I said,” Cardona testified.
When little Lazaro’s body was found in the bushes on Miami Beach, he had been starved, beaten and his skull was bashed in. He weighed only 18 pounds – half of what he should have weighed at his age.
He became known as “Baby Lollipops,” for the T-shirt he was wearing, bearing images of lollipops.
This is the third time his mother is on trial for the murder.
Twice before, Cardona has been tried, convicted and sentenced to death, but prosecutors have overturned the convictions due to procedural errors and “inflammatory” statements.
As in her previous trials, Cardona blamed her girlfriend, Olivia Gonzalez, for killing Lazaro.
In court Tuesday, the defense called a former prison mate of Olivia Gonzalez, to bolster Cardona’s claim that it was Gonzalez who killed the child.
Former inmate Odalys Fernandez said during a prison yard spat with another inmate, Gonzalez said, “Yes, if the bat, I hit the baby, and the bat was the one that killed him, then I killed the baby and I’ll kill yours.”
Another inmate said she heard Gonzalez react to being given the nickname “Lollipop” in prison.
Former inmate Margarita Volero quoted Gonzalez as saying she “didn’t care, that she was the one that hit the baby with the bat, that she just didn’t care, that she got 40 years for it.”
Gonzalez served 20 years of her 40-year sentence for her admitted participation in abusing Lazaro.
The state contends Cardona was the primary abuser and actually killed the boy.
Cardona has admitted to reluctantly engaging in a “romantic” relationship with Gonzalez, because she needed a place to live with Lazaro and his two older siblings.
“Olivia was forcing me to maintain a relationship with her. Anytime she touched me, I became nauseous,” Cardona testified.
“I became dependent on her. She was blackmailing me and threatening me and said they were going to take my children,” Cardona testified, crying.
“The problem with Olivia was I paid more attention to my children than I did to her,” Cardona testified. “She’s a monster, a monster, a monster.”
Cardona said Gonzalez would abuse Lazaro, shaking him and screaming at him.
Cardona said that when they moved into a small efficiency Gonzalez told her there could be no small, loud children around.
She said that Gonzalez told her she had taken Lazaro to stay with a still unidentified friend.
“Did you ever see Lazaro again?” a defense attorney asked.
“No,” Cardona replied, weeping.
When she next heard of her son, it was from a homicide detective.
“He told me that my son was dead and I thought that I was going to die,” Cardona said.
Gonzalez did not testify in this third trial.
She had previously testified that Cardona beat Lazaro, and smashed his head with a baseball bat.
In the third trial, the state is not seeking the death penalty.
Closing arguments are expected to begin Wednesday.