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“Baby Lollipops” mother receives death penalty
Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:11am

“Baby Lollipops” mother receives death penalty for killing toddler son

Ana Maria Cardona, for the second time, was sentenced to die for killing her toddler son, Lazaro Figueroa.



Ana Maria Cardona, twice convicted of the torture and murder of her toddler son, pleaded for her life Friday. In a Miami-Dade courtroom, she told the judge she had failed as a mother, but blamed drugs and a former lover for taking control of her life.
In prison, Cardona claimed, she has found God and reconnected with her three remaining children.
“I want to live for my other children. I know I have caused them a great deal of pain and I don’t want to cause them more,” she told Circuit Judge Reemberto Diaz.
But then it was the judge’s turn. He reminded her in agonizing detail of the suffering she inflicted on her 3-year-old son Lazaro “Baby Lollipops” Figueroa – even before his death.
Diaz recounted each injury inflicted on the boy over months: knocked-out teeth, fractured and misshapen bones, bruise after bruise, sores from being restrained, torn mouth tissue, a sunken and aching belly from lack of food. He recounted the filthy, unchanged diaper wrapped in duct tape causing a genital infection that made urinating painful for little Lazaro.
“It was almost a cast of excrement,” Diaz reminded her, adding: “Every part of his body was in excruciating pain for days, weeks and months until his death.”
For her “heinous, atrocious and cruel” acts, Diaz sentenced Cardona to death — the second time she has been sent to Death Row in the infamous Baby Lollipops case.
“Instead of protecting Lazaro as a mother should, she tortured him until his young body could no longer absorb the abuse,” Diaz said, reading from an exhaustive 15-page sentencing order. “It was only then that he was finally free of her and all the pain he had endured.”
Friday capped a two-decade legal saga that began when Cardona and her lover, Olivia Gonzalez, were arrested for Lazaro’s murder. His unidentified body, badly beaten and weighing just 18 pounds, was discovered in the bushes of a Miami Beach bay front home in November 1990. He was dubbed Baby Lollipops for the lollipop design on his T-shirt.
Cardona and Gonzalez left Miami and were arrested in the Orlando area. Cardona, in a sworn statement at the time, admitted leaving Lazaro in the bushes, but said he was alive and merely injured after hitting his head during a fall.
During a 1992 trial, Cardona blamed the abuse on Gonzalez. Jurors convicted Cardona anyway after Gonzalez testified that Cardona had beaten, tortured and hidden the child for months inside their Miami efficiency, inflicting a fatal blow on the boy with a baseball bat.
That year, Cardona became the first woman in Florida history to be sent to Death Row for killing her own child.
Gonzalez pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. She served 19 years in prison and is now free.. In 2002, the Florida Supreme Court overturned Cardona’s conviction because prosecutors had failed to disclose to the defense conflicting interviews with Gonzalez.
During last summer’s re-trial, Gonzalez was not called by either side. Instead, prosecutors relied heavily on medical examiner testimony, while Cardona’s defense team tried to cast blame on a 14-year-old mentally challenged girl who had confessed to the crime but quickly recanted during the investigation.
Last July, the second jury convicted Cardona, 50, of first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse. Three months later, the same jurors recommended the death penalty by a vote of 7-5.
“Florida is the only state in country where you can get sentenced to death by a 7-5 vote,” her lawyer, Edith Georgi said afterward. “It's disconcerting that the judge ignored the closeness of the vote and most importantly, in his order, he found the voice of the [remaining] children wanting to keep their mother alive to be most compelling — and he just ignored them."
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle said she was confident that this conviction would not be reversed.
“The criminal justice system owes it to Lazaro to uphold two juries, two judges, two prosecutors’ teams and 20 years of struggles for justice,” she said Friday.
During the sentencing, Cardona unexpectedly spoke up as the judge began to read his order. Gaunt with her hair pulled back in a ponytail, Cardona spoke through a Spanish interpreter, saying she wished “Lazarito would have been blessed with a better mother that would protect him all the time.”
She recounted her addiction to drugs and again cast blame on Gonzalez. “I was incapable of confronting her. I didn’t have the strength to protect my son Lazarito. I was a coward,” Cardona said, a story she has maintained since the first trial.
Lead prosecutor Susan Dannelly, sitting feet away, turned her back to Cardona, shaking her head.
“I would not look at her. I would not allow her to continue to protest responsibility for what she did,” Dannelly said later.
Judge Diaz pointed out that while Cardona continued to blame Gonzalez, she chose not to call her ex-lover as a witness at trial. Instead, Cardona asked the judge to consider Gonzalez’s shorter prison sentence and to spare her the death penalty. Diaz refused.
“She does not have a deep torturing sense of guilt for the evil acts she committed,” Diaz said of Cardona. “Acknowledging her failure as a mother is no remorse for torturing and killing her child.”

Read more:

  • Jurors consider death penalty in 1990 'Baby Lollipops' case BY DAVID OVALLE Miami-Dade jurors could decide Thursday whether to recommend the death penalty for Ana Maria... more
    • “Baby Lollipops” mother receives death penalty — Britta, Sat Jun 11 11:11am
      • dockets FL Supreme CourtBritta, Thu Oct 27 9:20pm
        Ana Maria Cardona v. State of Florida This case is Cardona's automatic appeal to the Florida Supreme Court for her conviction and death sentence.... more
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