VISALIA - 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.
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
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."