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Wisconsin woman sentenced to life in fetal abduction case

By Brendan O'Brien

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - A Milwaukee woman was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Thursday for beating and strangling a pregnant woman and then cutting a full-term fetus from her womb to pass off as her own child.

Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge David Borowski sentenced Annette Morales-Rodriguez, 34, after a jury in September found her guilty of two counts of homicide for killing Maritza Ramirez-Cruz, 23, and her unborn baby boy in October 2011.

The state of Wisconsin does not have the death penalty.

Morales-Rodriguez told authorities her boyfriend wanted a baby boy, but she was unable to get pregnant, so she feigned a pregnancy and panicked when she reached the point where she should have given birth.

She drove around her neighborhood and offered Ramirez-Cruz a ride to a local drug store after she found her outside a public agency frequented by pregnant women, according to a criminal complaint. Instead, Morales-Rodriguez told the pregnant woman she needed to stop at home to change her shoes.

While Ramirez-Cruz was inside using her bathroom, Morales-Rodriguez struck her in the head several times with a baseball bat, strangled her, taped her mouth, hands and feet with duct tape and then tried to cut out the fetus, according to investigators.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien, editing by Mary Wisniewski, desking by G Crosse)

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