MILWAUKEE -- A jury is now in place to hear the case against 34-year-old Annette Morales-Rodriguez -- the Milwaukee woman accused of killing a young mother and cutting a fetus from her womb. The jury is made up of eight women and six men.
Morales-Rodriguez has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the October 2011 deaths of Maritza Ramirez-Cruz and her fetus, a boy.
A criminal complaint in the case says in October of 2011, Morales-Rodriguez, who had suffered more than one miscarriage was faking another pregnancy to please her boyfriend. According to the complaint, as Morales-Rodriguez approached her fictitious due date, she panicked and then executed a plan to lure a pregnant Maritza Ramirez-Cruz to her house where she allegedly hit the mother of three with a baseball bat, strangled her and used an exacto-knife to cut the woman’s fetus from her womb.
"She thought if she could get a baby, she could pass it off as her own -- her and Jose's child, and she wound up performing this crude Cesarean-section on Maritza," prosecutor Mark Williams said.
The defense team's opening statement indicates Morales-Rodriguez was desperate to provide her boyfriend with a baby boy.
"The dispute in this case, and the issue you are going to have to decide is whether Annette intended to kill Maritza," defense attorney Debra Patterson said.
Ramirez-Cruz left behind a husband, two young daughters and a young son. She was 23 when she died.
Morales-Rodriguez initially claimed she had given birth to the baby boy, which caused doctors and police a lot of concern. That concern led to efforts to protect Morales-Rodriguez, at which time investigators say they were able to determine what really happened.
During jury selection Monday, several jurors said they saw details of the case in various media reports, including a news story broadcast on the jury room television Monday morning.
Some potential jurors expressed reservations because of what they’ve seen, while others said they believe they could remain fair if selected.
“With all due respect to the media, sometimes their reporting is accurate and sometimes it is inaccurate. Anything you’ve seen on TV or in the newspaper has anything to do directly with this case because none of it is evidence,” one court official said.
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