Ana Maria Cardona, the first woman on Florida’s death row for killing her own child, has had her conviction reversed a second time. While the Florida Supreme Court found that ample evidence was presented to allow the jury to find her guilty, the Court ruled that Prosecutors erred by using inappropriate, inflammatory arguments. “As we have stated for decades, we expect and require prosecutors, as representatives of the state, to refrain from engaging in inflammatory and abusive arguments, to maintain their objectivity, and to behave in a professional manner…” Cardona will be given a new trial, though the death penalty will be in question as the death sentencing procedure in place at the time of the offense has been found to be unconstitutional.
This was Cardona’s second trial, and the first was also thrown out for prosecutorial ‘error’. The court found that the prosecutors failed to disclose additional, contradictory statements, which is a clear violation of the discovery rules. Cardona will still face a third trial, and mandatory life in prison if convicted, even if the death penalty is reinstated.
None of these opinions say that she did not do it, nor that her actions were not horrible. The poor child was found beaten and abandoned, dubbed ‘Baby Lollipops’ by the press as investigators sought to determine who the child was. While the facts are atrocious, and supported the Heinous, Atrocious and Cruel [HAC] findings, the court is simply requiring the state to make appropriate arguments. It often seems that the prosecutors are held to a higher burden of decorum when presenting their case than defense attorneys… I certainly felt that way when I was a prosecutor, but it’s appropriate to ensure that the government act in an appropriate and ethical manner at all times. Any time the freedoms, and especially the life, of a citizen is on the line, there must be no indication of improper influence to obtain a conviction.