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Lazaro Figueroa
   1987 - December 6, 1990
Find A Grave Memorial

How could anyone, especially a mother, abuse a child, HER child to death and then abandoned him on a beach, unknown to the world? Anna Marie Cardona had no trouble doing just that. Lazaro Figueroa was only three years old when his body was found on November 2, 1990. No one knew who he was or where he had come from, but it was obvious that he had been abused to death.

Anna had been living with a drug dealer and ended up having two children by him, the youngest of the two was Lazaro. When her boyfriend was killed, Anna  inherited from him $100,000. and it didn't take her long to go through it. Without any more, Anna left her children with family and eventually Social Services stepped in and took the children. Anna would get them back and at that time, she became involved with a woman named Olivia Gonzalez-Mendoza. With neither of the women working, they got money by stealing.

It was after she regained custody of her children and Anna, who blamed Lazaro for them being poor, started to abuse this child. At times he was tied to the bed, locked in a closet or left in a bath tub in extremely hot or cold water. On the day that he died, Anna had hit Lazaro in the head with a baseball bat, splitting his skull and when he wouldn't stop screaming and crying, she beat him to death and the two women took his body and dumped it in a Miami Beach neighborhood and then they moved to Orlando.

After his body was found and identified, Anna and Olivia were arrested. Medical examiners said that Lazaro had been slowly dying from the abuse he suffered at the hands of these two monsters that he had brain damage due to untreated meningitis, he was anemic, had spinal cord damage and was suffering from malnutrition and dehydration. Immigration And Naturalizations Services placed a detainer on Anna, though I am not able to figure out why, other than she spoke very little English and maybe wasn't a citizen? That's just a guess.

Olivia Gonzales-Mendoza was convicted of aggravate child abuse and second degree murder and was sentenced to 15 to 40 years in prison. Here is a summary of what happened to Anna. I am using copy and paste from a court document because so much happened and I don't want to get this wrong. Everything bolded below came from here: http://www.floridacapitalcases.state.fl.us/case_updates/Htm/162180.htm

Trial Summary:

 

12/06/90          Defendant arrested.

01/11/91          Defendant indicted on:

                                    Count I:            First-Degree Murder

                                    Count II:           Aggravated Child Abuse

03/31/92          The jury found the defendant guilty on both counts.

03/31/92          Upon advisory sentencing, the jury, by an 8 to 4 majority, voted for the

death penalty.

04/01/92          The defendant was sentenced as followed:

                                    Count I:            First-Degree Murder – Death

                                    Count II:           Aggravated Child Abuse – 15 years

07/09/10          Upon retrial, the jury again found the defendant guilty on both counts

10/14/10          The jury recommended death by a vote of 7 to 5

10/14/10          The defendant was sentenced as followed:

                                    Count I:            First-Degree Murder – Death

                                    Count II:           Aggravated Child Abuse – 15 years

Appeal Summary:

 

Florida Supreme Court - Direct Appeal

FSC #79,787

641 So. 2d 361 (Fla. 1994)

 

05/04/92          Appeal filed.

06/02/94          FSC affirmed the convictions and sentence of death.

08/31/94          Rehearing denied.

09/30/94          Mandate issued.

 


United States Supreme Court - Petition for Writ of Certiorari

USSC #94-7096

513 U.S. 1160

 

11/29/94          Petition filed.

02/21/95          Petition denied.

 

State Circuit Court - 3.850 Motion

CC #90-48092

 

04/24/97          Motion filed.

05/26/00          Motion denied.

 

Florida Supreme Court - 3.850 Appeal

FSC #SC00-1366

826 So.2d 968

 

06/26/00          Appeal filed.

07/11/02          FSC reversed Cardona’s conviction and sentence and remanded for a new

trial due to a Brady violation

09/11/02          Appellee’s Motion for Rehearing denied.

10/11/02          Mandate issued.

 

Florida Supreme Court - Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus

FSC #SC01-1056

826 So.2d 968

 

05/22/01          Petition filed.

07/11/02          FSC granted Cardona’s 3.850 Appeal, citing a Brady violation committed

by the State.  Cardona’s conviction and sentence were reversed and her

Habeas Petition was denied as moot.

  

Factors Contributing to the Delay in the Imposition of the Sentence:

 

Cardona’s Motion to Vacate Judgment and Sentence (3.850) took over three years to reach a denial.  On 07/11/02, the Florida Supreme Court granted Cardona’s 3.850 Appeal and remanded her case for a new trial. Cardona was released from the Florida Department of Corrections in 2002 and is currently incarcerated in the Women’s Annex in the Miami-Dade County Jail.

Case Information:

 

Cardona filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 05/04/92.  In that appeal, Cardona argued that a limited jury instruction should have been given in conjunction with the evidence of abuse presented to the jury, and that the court erred in refusing to consider non-statutory mitigating evidence.  Cardona also raised the issued that her co-defendant received a lesser sentence for her part in the murder.  The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentence of death on 06/02/94.

 

On 11/29/94, Cardona filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on 02/21/95.

 

Next, on 03/24/97, Cardona filed a Motion to Vacate Judgment and Sentence (3.850) in the State Circuit Court.  When that motion was denied on 05/26/00, Cardona steadfastly filed an appeal of that decision in the Florida Supreme Court on 06/26/00.  On 07/11/02, the Florida Supreme Court reversed Cardona’s conviction and sentence and remanded for a new trial citing a Brady violation committed by the State.  The Florida Supreme Court found that the State withheld material criminal investigative reports of interviews with Olivia Gonzales-Mendoza, the co-defendant, which contradicted her testimony against Cardona at trial.  By failing to disclose these reports, the State prevented the defense from impeaching Gonzales-Mendoza’s credibility as the State’s key witness. 

 

Cardona filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Florida Supreme Court on 05/22/01.  On 07/11/02, Cardona’s conviction and sentence were reversed when the Florida Supreme Court granted her 3.850 Appeal.  As such, her Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus was denied as moot.

 

On 07/09/10, Cardona was again found guilty on all counts. The jury recommended death by a vote of 7 to 5 and Cardona was sentenced to death on 10/14/10.


While in prison for killing her son, Anna Maria Cardona said she found God, I truly hope that she did. Anna had abused her son to death. Anna said that she she wished she could change her life and the life of her son and that she wished her son could have been blessed with a better mother who would have protected him and always been there for him:

"Something miraculous happened in my life during my life these 21 years. I received and unconditional
love. It's the love of God and Christian brothers who taught me the word of God and this changed my life.
Now, I'm a different woman, a new woman an her way to God. I would like to have the opportunity to help
other women in my situation so that they don't go through the pain that I carry inside. For the first time I felt
I had something to contribute. Now, I can help other women who are in jail so that they can accept God in
their life so that they can be a better mother and better person. In these 21 years, I have mature and I'm a
different woman because God changed my life. Judge, I don't want to die. I want to live for a very important
reason. I know by killing me a piece of my children will be killed and that is the worst of all. I have caused
my children enough pain and I don't want them cause them any more pain. "I failed at the most important
 job a mother can have which is to protect her children. I have spent the
last 21 years feeling guilty for everything that happened to my son Lazarito and nothing can replace the life of my son Lazarito.
Nothing can replace the pain that I feel inside me and there's that could replace
the loss of a son.
Nothing that exists could alleviate my pain"


Anna said that the reason she didn't want to die was that she wanted to live for her three other children. At trial, Judge Reemberto Diaz was not impressed with her statements saying that she failed to accepted responsibility for what she had done:

"Lazaro was mistreated from the day he was born. Lazaro was tortured and mistreated until his
young body
could no longer absorb the abuse. Anna Maria Cardona, you forfeited your right to
 live. I sentence you to death"


Anna had heard those words before since in 1992 she had been found guilty of killing her son and was sentenced to death. The Florida Supreme Court overturned that sentence for what they called "procedural problems". This time, after her sentencing, Prosecutor Susan Sannelly said:

"A death sentence is always a day of sorrow but it's a long time coming. Finally, she is held accountable
for what she has done. She started out by blaming a baby-sitting and then Gonzales and never really
acknowledging her guilt"

Defense Lawyers huddled around Anna to comfort her as she cried and Belkis Cortes, a woman's detention minister said she would pray with Anna until the end:

"This day is too sad. We love the new person. Everyone has a new opportunity. She has peace in
her heart. She has repented and she recognizes that she's done bad things. I don't know the Anna
Marie Cardona of the past. Still, the law is the law and I respect the Judge's decision"

Reports said the case would be sent back to the Supreme Court on appeal.

This page was created on May 26, 2014
Death Occurred in the state of Florida

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