Hey, it's the girl-blogger, and wow was today amazing in court! Ana Cardona testified and it was as tension filled a courtroom drama as you're ever going to see.
"You've had 27 years to come up with your story" shot Reid Ruben at Ana Maria Cardona, and thus began a memorable cross examination of one of the most notorious defendants in recent Miami-Dade History.
Earlier in the day Cardona finished her direct testimony under the patient questioning of PD Manny Alvarez. She finished her testimony in dramatic fashion- nearly screaming and twice saying that "Olivia Gonzalez Mendoza" killed her son in response to Manny's last question if she killed her son.
Cardona took the stand Monday morning to a courtroom packed with prosecutors, PDs and Judges. The tension was thick when Cardona took the stand and took the jury through her life history, coming from Mariel, Cuba, and her three children. Cardona testified she was homeless after Lazaro's father died and she was evicted, and Olivia Gonzalez-the woman the defense blames as the killer- forced her into a sexual relationship in exchange for housing and food. This trial has all the makings of a tragic movie.
Cardona became unhinged as she testified, forcing Judge De La O to call sidebar after sidebar and once he instructed the interpreter to interrupt Cardona because the interpreter couldn't keep up with all she was saying. Also- some unusual moments where Judge De La O had to correct the interpreter's translation of Cardona's testimony in Spanish. I've never seen that before in my admittedly limited trial experience, but I know the Judges watching are all admiring the way De La O is handling this very challenging moment. Cardona speaks Spanish so fast that interpreters are cycling in and out because she is tiring them out. Unbelievable.
It was clear to most of us in gallery that Reid Ruben was going to have a tough time because Cardona was mostly uncontrollable, and that's what in fact happened.
Reid Ruben went hard at Cardona, mocking her claim that "Olivia killed my son" and asked her if she wanted to tell the jury that again? So Cardona did- crying out "Olivia Gonzalez killed my son."
Cardona also shouted out to Ruben that he could call Olivia Gonzalez to court and ask her himself. Point to Cardona on that one. I've been wondering about that and some of the other lawyers told me that Olivia Gonzalez is out of prison and in Miami and that for some reason neither side wants to call her. Weird. It seems to me that the defense should have called her, but maybe they want her to be the boogey-man in the jurors eyes. The jurors are going to hold the fact that Olivia Gonzalez was not called against somebody and I think Cardona put the prosecution on the defensive on that one.
At times Mr. Ruben shouted at Cardona and she shouted back at him and both the interpreter and court reporter became flustered and add to that the defense team on their feet objecting, and this was courtroom theatrics at their best and De La O did a wonderful job keeping control.
Cardona managed to claim she turned down a plea offer and that she'd been to death row several times and that she even volunteered to go. All of these exchanges caused Judge De La O to interrupt and call for sidebars to regain control of the testimony.
It was a dramatic move to call Cardona to the witness stand, but if you think about it- the PDs made the right move. Cardona is no longer facing the death penalty and she really has nothing to lose. But this was a move Reid Ruben was ready for, He had her taped statement ready to go, as well as pictures of Cardona with Olivia Gonzalez in Orlando, smiling, after the murder. Reid Ruben even had medical records showing Cardona was using cocaine when she gave birth to her son Lazaro. This is one prepared dude.
I don't think this case is a slam dunk. But it's going to very very hard for jurors to vote not guilty because of the tragedy of this case. The late Dr. Hyma, a Dade ME, had his testimony read back in court today and it was very very disturbing. This was a child that was abused before he was killed.
Thanks for letting the girl blog Rumpole.
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