Merced County woman defends herself in murder, kidnap case
MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Merced County woman accused of murdering a mother and kidnapping a baby defended herself on the witness stand Monday. However, the victim's family said her testimony is a lie.
Jurors heard a chilling description of the murder and kidnapping from the woman now fighting for her freedom.
Investigators said Teresa Robles and Jose Velarde strangled the victim and burned her body. Teresa now claims Jose is the killer and she had no idea what he was planning to do.
Teresa Robles cried on the witness stand as she spoke about the crime. She told jurors she was an abused woman too afraid to stand up to her violent boyfriend. But prosecutors argue she was involved in the deadly plot all along.
Sheriff's deputies found the young mother's burned body in an orchard near Snelling in December of 2010. Prosecutors say Teresa and Jose Velarde killed Ana and kidnapped her two month old son because they wanted a baby boy of their own. The infant showed up on a door step in Le Grand days later as the case gained media attention.
Teresa admitted to wearing a pillow under her shirt to convince family members she was pregnant. But she testified she went along with the farce because she feared Jose. She said he often beat her with belt and was becoming more aggressive. Her defense attorney showed phone records of 911 calls Teresa made months before the murder. But the victim's family members don't believe her story.
Teresa also testified Jose told her he had an affair with Ana and that little Anthony was his son. Teresa says she invited Ana to her Planada home and then went into the bathroom so Jose could talk to her about the baby in private. When Teresa came out minutes later, she said her boyfriend was on top of Ana with his hands around her neck and the 26-year-old was already dead. Teresa claimed she was too scared to call for help.
"She's been making up her own story to save herself obviously. She already confessed that she was part of it and that my cousin and her husband never knew each other," the victims cousin Yanaira Grandados said.
Prosecutors also point out Teresa admitted to a much larger role in the plot during the investigation. They said she previously offered a man money to steal a baby and "hurt" the mother. Teresa insisted that was all based on her fear and love for Jose.
Two different juries are hearing this trial because of statements Teresa and Jose have made about one another. It started just more than a month ago and closing arguments are not expected to begin for at least a few more days.
The defendants are facing a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.
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