Annette Morales-Rodriguez, 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 settled on a sinister plan to abduct another Hispanic woman, carve the child from her womb and pass it off as her own.
She followed through last year and ended up killing not only 23-year-old Maritza Ramirez-Cruz, but also Ramirez-Cruz’s full-term son as well. On Thursday, Morales-Rodriguez will be sentenced to prison for life. The only unknown is whether the judge will allow for the possibility of parole. Wisconsin doesn’t have the death penalty.
Morales-Rodriguez, 34, was convicted of two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, one for Ramirez-Cruz and one for the fetus. She didn’t testify during her trial, and her defence attorneys, who didn’t deny that she attacked Ramirez-Cruz, didn’t call any witnesses.
Instead, defence attorneys argued that the slayings were reckless but not intentional, because Morales-Rodriguez didn’t mean for the victims to die. They urged jurors to convict her of the lesser charge of first-degree reckless homicide, which carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison.
A key piece of evidence during the trial was a videotaped police interview in which Morales-Rodriguez described her attack on the young mother. She admitted luring Ramirez-Cruz to her home, bludgeoning and choking her into unconsciousness, and then using a small blade to carve out the fetus.
In a 911 call played for jurors, she told a dispatcher that she had just given birth to a baby who wasn’t breathing.
Police later found the victim’s disembowelled body in Morales-Rodriguez’s basement.
She sat in silence throughout the three days of testimony. She kept her head down and eyes open as she listened through headphones to an interpreter translating English into Spanish.