Ana Maria Cardona was convicted in the death of her 3-year-old son on November 11, 1991. The disturbing case made national headlines when the toddler’s broken and emaciated body was discovered on the front lawn of a Miami, Florida, home. As he was not identified for several weeks, Lazaro Figueroa was dubbed “Baby Lollipops.”
Baby Lollipops’ body was found by utility workers on November 2, 1990. Authorities said the toddler was obviously beaten, and appeared to be malnourished. A subsequent autopsy confirmed everyone’s worst fears.
As reported by Crime & Capital Punishment, medical examiners determined Lazaro was suffering from brain damage, anemia, and malnutrition in the months prior to his death. However, he was ultimately killed by numerous blows to the head with a baseball bat.
Ana Maria Cardona was arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse and first-degree murder on December 12, 1990. Although she admitted her child was abused, and ultimately beaten to death, Cardona blamed her lover, Olivia Gonzalez.
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Although she admitted her son was abused, and ultimately beaten to death, Cardona blamed her lover, Olivia Gonzalez. During court, she blamed an addiction to cocaine for her indifference to the repeated abuse.
Murderpedia reports Olivia Gonzales admitted she participated in the beatings and helped Cardona dispose of the toddler’s body. However, she denied ending Lazaro Figueroa’s life.
Although Gonzalez was also charged in connection with Baby Lollipops’ death, she agreed to testify against her former lover. In exchange for her cooperation, Olivia’s charge was reduced to second-degree murder, and she was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
On March 31, 1992, Ana Maria Cardona was convicted of aggravated child abuse and first-degree murder. She was subsequently sentenced to death.
Between May, 1992, and 1996, Cardona’s attorneys filed numerous appeals, which were all denied. However, a Motion to Vacate Judgement and Sentence, which was filed in March, 1997, was granted by the Florida Supreme Court in May, 2001.
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In their 2001 decision, the Supreme Court determined vital information, including interviews with Olivia Gonzales, were not made available to Cardona’s attorneys. Therefore, her original conviction and sentence were overturned and she was granted a new trial.
During her second trial, Ana Maria Cardona blamed a 14-year-old babysitter, who was mentally disabled, for Baby Lollipops’ death. Although the teen reportedly confessed to “hurling the toddler against a wall,” she later recanted her testimony.
In 2010, Cardona was again convicted of aggravated child abuse and first-degree murder. Less than one year later, she was resentenced to death.
Six years later, Ana Maria Cardona’s conviction and sentence were again overturned, as the Florida Supreme Court determined the prosecutor’s case made inflammatory comments during the 2010 trial, and particularly during closing arguments.
ABC13 reports the Justices also determined Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Reemberto Diaz neglected his duty in overruling objections to the inflammatory comments.
As her conviction and sentence were overturned, Cardona will have yet another trial and, if convicted, another sentencing hearing. However, she may avoid the death penalty.
Proposed legislation, which was recently approved by the Florida Supreme Court, would tighten the restrictions for imposing capital punishment. If approved by the state legislature, the law “would switch that authority solely to juries and would require a minimum 10-2 vote to impose death.” The new law would also prevent judges from having the final decision in sentences of death.
It is unclear how her defense team will proceed during the new trial. Although she vehemently denies direct responsibility for Baby Lollipops’ death, Ana Maria Cardona has admitted knowledge of the brutal, and chronic, abuse.
[Mugshot image via New York Daily News]