Gabriela Mariana Morales Found Guilty at Second Trial in 4-year-old Son's Beating Death
The Santa Ana 30-year-old did not get so lucky this week, when a jury that deliberated for day found her guilty of second-degree murder, assault on a child likely to produce death and child abuse.
Judge William Froeberg could sentence Morales to 25 years to life in state prison at a Santa Ana Superior Court hearing scheduled for May 25, which is five days shy of the fourth anniversary of Brandon Morales' death.
|Alberto Solis Guzman|
Guzman repeatedly hit and punched the 4-year-old on April 30, 2008. A month to the day later, Morales knocked Brandon into unconsciousness with several blows to his head--and then waited several hours before calling 9-1-1. Paramedics took the boy to Children's Hospital of Orange County, where he was pronounced dead from blunt-force trauma to the head.
At the time of his arrest, Guzman admitted to having hit Brandon before but claimed that it was never very hard and that Morales is the one who murdered her son. But a jury in 2010 convicted Guzman for assaulting, battering, endangering and causing the death of Brandon. Jurors let him off the hook on a second-degree murder count. Judge W. Michael Hays sentenced Guzman in January 2011 to 25 years to life in state prison.
On Monday, the same day a different jury handed Morales a guilty verdict, the state appeals court announced Guzman's conviction was upheld.
The unidentified holdout juror in Morales' May 2011 mistrial questioned whether the mother was beaten by police investigators and whether DNA evidence found on a bloody towel in her home matched that of her boy.
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