A South Florida woman accused of killing her toddler son in what became known as the "Baby Lollipops" case was seen punching the boy before his death, according to testimony from neighbors during day two of her third first-degree murder trial Tuesday.
Ana Maria Cardona, 56, faces life in prison if convicted in the 1990 killing of 3-year-old son Lazaro Figueroa.
"She got mad at him and she just punched him," a neighbor testified. "She closed the door and when I looked underneath the door, you know it didn’t look, appear as any lights were on but the shower was going and he was screaming."
Two previous convictions and death sentences against Cardona were tossed out by the Florida Supreme Court. Prosecutors decided against seeking death a third time.
The death of Figueroa was huge news after the boy's body, weighing 18 pounds and badly beaten, was discovered in the bushes of a Miami Beach home in November 1990. Police initially could not identify the boy and called him "Baby Lollipops" after a design on his T-shirt.
Cardona has said the boy's death was an accident. The case is now 27 years old and many people are no longer available to testify, so one of the prosecutors read prior testimony from witnesses in court Tuesday.
Cardona at the time had a relationship with Olivia Gonzalez. The couple also had two other older children besides Lazaro. They lived in a Miami Beach hotel and were struggling to make ends meet.
"A neighbor called the police because the baby was crying all day and they were afraid that they were going to be kicked out of the hotel," prosecutor Christine Zahralban said.
The trial will continue through next week. If convicted, Cardona will face life in prison.