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Calif. mother found guilty of child’s murder

Posted on: October 11, 2009

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Calif. mother found guilty of child’s murder

(AP) – 2 days ago

VISALIA, Calif. — A central California mother accused of abandoning three of her newborns and leaving one to die in the back of a pickup could face more than 22 years in prison after being convicted of second-degree murder and child abuse charges.

A Tulare County jury took less than an hour Thursday to return the verdict against Nancy Ortiz, 24, of Orosi, a farm community of 7,300 in the San Joaquin Valley.

Ortiz took the stand on her own behalf during the trial, telling jurors she hid her last three pregnancies from everyone except her boyfriend, who was abusive and didn’t want more children.

After giving birth to a baby girl alone in her bedroom, Ortiz said she swaddled her daughter in a sweatshirt and placed her in the truck, hoping the infant would enjoy a better life than what she could provide. The coroner concluded the baby was alive for less than a day before dying of exposure.

“She did not have the right to stick the baby out there,” jury foreman Steven Byer said. “She had choices.”

Jurors found Ortiz guilty of second-degree murder in the death and three felony counts of child abuse for abandoning the three babies. She also was convicted of misdemeanor child abuse after another child, a toddler daughter, was found wandering the streets wearing only a diaper.

Prosecutors painted Ortiz as a methamphetamine user who risked killing her other children. They were found alive after being abandoned — a boy was found barely breathing on a bench in February 2005, and a girl was found wearing just an undershirt and pants in January 2006. They are in foster care.

Ortiz will be sentenced Dec. 9.

Ortiz’s attorney, Michelle Winspur, said her client was devastated at the guilty verdict.

“She never intended to murder the child,” Winspur said. “She was young, she was scared and she was on drugs.”



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