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Jury convicts Wisconsin woman in fetal-abduction deaths
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Milwaukee • A Milwaukee woman was convicted Thursday of killing a pregnant woman and trying to steal her full-term fetus last year.

A jury of six men and six women deliberated for about an hour before convicting Annette Morales-Rodriguez, 34, of two counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the October 2011 deaths of the mother and fetus. She faces a mandatory life sentence when she is sentenced Dec. 14, although a judge could allow for the possibility of parole. Wisconsin doesn't have the death penalty.

Prosecutors said Morales-Rodriguez faked a pregnancy, panicked as her supposed due date approached and then lured 23-year-old Maritza Ramirez-Cruz to her house. There, she attacked her and used an X-Acto knife to cut the fetus out, according to the criminal complaint.

Ramirez-Cruz died of blood loss and asphyxiation, and her fetus, a boy, died as a result of her death, authorities say.

Morales-Rodriguez's defense attorneys didn't deny that she attacked Ramirez-Cruz. But they argued that the deaths of the mother and fetus weren't intentional because Morales-Rodriguez didn't intend for anyone to die.

Morales-Rodriguez did not testify during the trial, and her attorneys did not call any witnesses.

The strongest evidence against Morales-Rodriguez was a videotaped interview she gave to police in which she recounted the attack. She explained to investigators that she was desperate to give her boyfriend a son but that she couldn't "stay pregnant." She said she twice pretended to be pregnant, only to claim each time that she miscarried.

When she lied about a third pregnancy, she considered another scenario: killing a pregnant woman and stealing her baby. She described how she went to a Hispanic community center and found Ramirez-Cruz, a mother of three who was in her 40th week of pregnancy.

Morales-Rodriguez told police she bashed Ramirez-Cruz in the head with a baseball bat, then choked her until she passed out. She said she then put duct tape over the younger woman's eyes and nose and wrapped a plastic bag around her head. She then used a small blade to slice the victim open from hip to hip and pulled out a stillborn boy, Morales-Rodriguez said in the videotape.

She then called 911, telling a dispatcher she had just given birth to a baby who wasn't breathing.

In the ensuing investigation and autopsy, a medical examiner found evidence that the baby wasn't the product of a natural birth. A subsequent examination verified Morales-Rodriguez hadn't given birth.

Police later found Ramirez-Cruz's body in Moralez-Rodriguez's basement, according to the criminal complaint.

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