Jury finds Annette Morales-Rodriguez guilty in fetal abduction trial

MILWAUKEE -- A jury convicted a Milwaukee woman on Thursday, September 20th of killing a pregnant mother last year and trying to steal her full-term baby in October 2011.

A jury of 12 found Annette Morales-Rodriguez guilty of two counts of first-degree intentional homicide. She faces a mandatory life sentence, although a judge could allow for the possibility of parole. Wisconsin does not have the death penalty.

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.

"We've all seen horror films, right? I've never seen a horror film this horrible! I mean, this is beyond any type of comprehension, because there's killing, upon killing, upon killing," a prosecutor said.

Morales-Rodriguez's defense attorneys conceded she strangled 23-year-old victim Maritza Ramirez-Cruz last October, but they argued the deaths of the mother and her fetus weren't intentional.

"Her intent was to get that baby. Tunnel vision -- baby, not killing. Not thinking 'what am I gonna do with this body?'" a member of the defense team said.

Testimony wrapped up Thursday with the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office providing details on the deaths of Ramirez-Cruz and her fetus.

"The cause of death was multiple injuries, due to newborn abduction by Cesarean-section," a Medical Examiner's official said.

Following Thursday's verdict, Ramirez-Cruz's widower, Christian Mercado, reacted through his translator.

"It's heartbreaking for him -- seeing all of this. It's been bad. There's like, no words to describe the pain he has," Mercado's translator said.

The judge in the case had anticipated the trial would continue into Friday, but jurors only took about an hour to reach a decision.

Morales-Rodriguez's sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 14th.

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