Morales-Rodriguez convicted of murdering pregnant woman, stealing unborn baby
Dan O'Donnell, The Associated Press & WTMJ News Team
Cody Holyoke reportsPhoto: Video by tmj4.com
MILWAUKEE- A jury convicted Annette Morales-Rodriguez on two counts of first-degree intentional homicide after killing Maritza Ramirez-Cruz last October, cutting her unborn baby from her womb, and trying to pass the boy off as her own.
The baby died shortly afterward.
Morales-Rodriguez faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of extended supervision when she is sentenced.
Prosecutors say Morales-Rodriguez had miscarriages and was desperate to give her boyfriend a son. They say she faked being pregnant, panicked as her supposed due date approached, and decided to attack an expectant mother and try to pass off the child as her own.
"When she (Morales-Rodriguez) plunges this into her abdomen and cuts across 11 inches, you think she's going to think Maritza's going to survive that?" asked prosecutor Mark Williams.
Morales-Rodriguez's defense attorneys conceded she strangled 23-year-old victim Maritza Ramirez-Cruz last October. But they argued that the deaths of the mother and her fetus weren't intentional.
"Her intent was to get that baby," said defense attorney Reyna Morales. "Tunnel vision on the baby, not killing."
Christian Mercado waited for this moment for a year. He smiled as his wife's killer learned her fate. Overcome with emotion, the man's friends say this courtroom battle pushed Mercado to a breaking point.
"He's feeling very bad. It's up and down for him," said Mercado's friend Penelope Solis. "This is the first time he's seen the videos, it's breaking his heart."
Morales-Rodriguez will be back in court for sentencing in December.