Three separate juries over almost thirty years have convicted Ana Cardona of aggravated child abuse and first degree murder. In each trial Cardona was represented by experienced criminal defense attorneys. So the question is: Could a defense be constructed to get a jury to acquit Cardona?
Probably not. But possibly so (how's that for equivocating?).
NO, THE CASE COULD NOT BE WON:
1)The facts were horrible.
2) The pictures of Lazaro were extremely disturbing.
3) As Reid Rubin pointed out- a three year old child doesn't weight 18 pounds overnight. It takes years of sustained abuse and neglect for a child to become so malnourished.
4) Cardona gave a statement which undermined her defense.
5) Cardona was pictured at Disney World after Lazaro's death. "You go to Disney World when you win an NBA championship, not when your child was murdered."
6) It is very very hard under the best of circumstances to obtain an acquittal in a case where a child has been murdered.
YES, THE CASE COULD BE WON:
1)There was another person who may well have struck the fatal blow.
2)Thus the murder of Lazaro was an independent act Cardona had nothing to do with.
3) Cardona was 19 years old; the father of Lazaro had recently died and she had been evicted and was homeless with three children and had no where to go.
4) A story about a homeless teen-age woman, a single mother of three children who was desperate, scared, and unable to provide for her children could have been told in a much more effective manner.
5)The defense could have thrown a hail-mary and called Olivia Gonzalez- who the defense blamed for killing Lazaro- to the witness stand.
6)The great criminal defense attorney Gerry Spence might have been able to win the case, but not too many others could have pulled it off.
No matter what you think about this case, remember that the defense was tasked with defending one of the most notorious defendants charged with one of the most notorious and heart-breaking murders in recent South Florida history. This was never going to be an easy case. Monday morning quarter-backing is easy; putting on your trial suit every day and going to court and fighting for a client with very little jury appeal is harder than it looks and sounds.
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