The Utah Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the murder and child abuse convictions of a mother found guilty of snapping her son’s spine.
The high court unanimously rejected arguments by Adrianna Lucero — who claims her boyfriend caused the child’s fatal injuries — that her defense attorney was ineffective because he failed to present expert testimony on Battered Woman’s Syndrome at her trial. She also argued in an appeal that the trial judge should not have allowed evidence of prior child abuse admitted as evidence.
Alejandro Lucero, who was about to turn 2, died on Aug. 24, 2008, at the Kearns house where his mother’s boyfriend rented a room. Prosecutors claimed the boy’s back was bent backwards, which snapped his spine and pulled apart his aorta.
Lucero, then 17, was charged as an adult with murder and child abuse. The child-abuse charge stemmed from a bruise on his back that the boy suffered a week before.
Lucero told police her son had a seizure but changed her statement after she learned Alejandro’s back had been broken. She then said she had lied because she thought her son had died of a seizure and she wanted to protect her boyfriend, who was in the United States illegally, from being deported.
At trial, Lucero testified the boyfriend — Sergio Martinez-Gonzalez, the father of her 5-month-old twins — never accepted Alejandro, who was her son from a previous relationship, and claimed he was alone with the toddler immediately before he suffered his injuries. Prosecutors, though, contended Lucero had a quick temper and lost control under the pressure of caring for three young children.
Lucero is serving concurrent prison terms of 15 years to life on the murder conviction and one to 15 years for child abuse. She was convicted by a 3rd District Court jury of the crimes after a weeklong trial in 2009.
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