Retrial Begins in "Baby Lollipops" Murder Case | NBC 6 South Florida

Retrial Begins in "Baby Lollipops" Murder Case

Mom convicted in shocking beating death of son in 1990 back in court

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    NBCMiami.com
    Baby Lollipops, AKA Lazaro Figueroa, son of Ana Maria Cardona, who was convicted of beating him to death.

    A murder case that rocked South Florida nearly 20 years ago is resurfacing in court Tuesday as jury selection begins in the retrial of the "Baby Lollipops" case.

    Ana Maria Cardona, who was convicted of murdering her son in 1992 by beating him to death with a baseball bat, will be back in court today after the Florida Supreme Court overturned the conviction.

    Their basis: prosecutors failed to share information that could have exonerated Cardona.

    Now Cardona will have yet another chance to defend herself in the murder that shocked Miami two decades ago.

    It all began in 1990, with the discovery of a child's lifeless body found  in the bushes in front of a Miami Beach mansion.

    The unidentified boy had been starved, beaten, bitten, his bones broken. Police called him "Baby Lollipops" for the design on his shirt.

    He was later identified as 3-year-old Lazaro Figueroa, son of Cardona.

    What followed was an emotional murder trial. Cardona's lover, Olivia Gonzalez, was the prosecution's star witness. Her tearful tales of Cardona's torturing the boy were key to Cardona's conviction and death sentence.

    But Gonzalez eventually admitted to beating the toddler herself, insisting she was a lesser participant. Cardona argued, however, that Gonzalez had delivered the final, fatal blow with the baseball bat.

    Gonzalez eventually pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. After 15 years, she was released from prison in 2008 for good behavior.

    But in a twist, the Florida Supreme Court overturned Cardona's conviction in 2002, granting her a new trial.

    The retrial centers around conflicting testimony the defense team was unaware of. It turns out that in earlier statements, Gonzalez had admitted to detectives that she had hit Lazaro with a bat and cracked his head open.

    Defense attorneys say those details were kept from them by the prosecution. The state Supreme Court determined that prosecutors may have coached Gonzalez into giving compelling testimony.

    Gonzalez's former attorney said her early release will likely be the focus for Cardona's defense.