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Life sentence in fatal Wisconsin fetus theft case

Annette Morales-Rodriguez sats next to her attorneys in a Milwaukee court Sept. 17. Morales-Rodriguez was convicted of trying to steal a baby by attacking a pregnant woman and slicing out her full-term fetus, killing both the mother and child.

Carrie Antlfinger/AP Photo

Annette Morales-Rodriguez sats next to her attorneys in a Milwaukee court Sept. 17. Morales-Rodriguez was convicted of trying to steal a baby by attacking a pregnant woman and slicing out her full-term fetus, killing both the mother and child.

MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee woman who confessed to police that she tried to steal a baby by killing a pregnant woman and cutting out the full-term fetus was sentenced Thursday to life in prison with no chance of parole.

Annette Morales-Rodriguez, 34, was convicted in September of two counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the deaths of Maritza Ramirez-Cruz, 23, and her fetus. According to testimony, Morales-Rodriguez was distraught over her inability to give her boyfriend a son, had pretended to have two miscarriages, and was faking a third pregnancy when she devised a plan to abduct the woman, carve the child from her womb, and pass it off as her own.

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The convictions carried mandatory life sentences, so the only question for Judge David Borowski was whether Morales-Rodriguez would be allowed the possibility of parole.

Morales-Rodriguez did not testify during her trial, and her defense lawyers, who didn’t deny that she attacked Ramirez-Cruz, didn’t call any witnesses. Instead, they argued that the 2011 deaths of Ramirez-Cruz and her baby were reckless but not intentional because Morales-Rodriguez didn’t mean for the victims to die.

They urged jurors to convict her of the lesser charge of first-degree reckless homicide, which carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison. Instead, jurors convicted her on the original charges.

A key piece of evidence during the trial was a videotaped police interview in which Morales-Rodriguez described her attack on the young mother. She admitted luring Ramirez-Cruz to her home, bludgeoning and choking her into unconsciousness, and then using a small blade to carve out the fetus.

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