'Single Worst Case' of Child Murder in Miami Still in Flux
'I did not kill my baby,' Ana Maria Cardona says of horrific death of 3-year-old son
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2017 5:03 PM CST
Updated Jan 21, 2017 4:26 PM CST
This Florida Department of Law Enforcement photo shows Ana Maria Cardona.   (Florida Department of Law Enforcement via AP)

(Newser) – The body of 3-year-old Lazaro Figueroa, dressed in a lollipop-adorned T-shirt, was found underneath a bush in Miami Beach in November 1990. Injuries on his body showed "Baby Lollipops" had been a victim of extreme domestic violence, and as Jaquira Diaz writes for Rolling Stone, local law enforcement and other experts concurred it was "the single worst case of child abuse and child murder" they'd ever witnessed. A few weeks later, the boy had been named, and two had been charged with his murder: his mother, Ana Maria Cardona, and her romantic partner, Olivia Gonzalez. Diaz details her interactions with Cardona, currently on death row and awaiting a new trial after two of her convictions were overturned, who insists she played no part in her son's death. The most damning evidence against her: Gonzalez's testimony, which she offered for a plea deal.

Gonzalez documented an abusive, drug-filled existence with Cardona and three of Cardona's kids, including Lazaro, who often endured the torturous wrath of his mother and was the victim of severe abuse and neglect. Friends and neighbors backed up Gonzalez's narrative. A medical examiner who examined Lazaro's body said even if his death hadn't been expedited by a baseball bat blow to the head, he eventually would have died from all the other injuries. However, a decade after Cardona's first conviction, cracks started appearing in the case against her, and she's been fighting for her freedom. "I did not kill my baby," Cardona—who refused to take a plea deal that may have freed her by 2012—tells Diaz in a letter. "I have faith in God that the truth will come out." Read the tale of Lazaro's short life at Rolling Stone. (Another mother involved in her 3-year-old's death.)

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