Maria Ceja and Jose Velarde guilty of murder, kidnapping
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Maria Ceja was found guilty of first degree murder and Jose Velarde was found guilty second degree murder in kidnapping and murder case in Snelling.
The verdicts in the case against a couple accused of murdering a mother and kidnapping her baby are in. Jurors found Jose Velarde guilty of second degree murder and kidnapping. He could be sentenced to 32 years to life.
Investigators said Maria Ceja and Jose Velarde strangled Ana Diaz De-Ceja and burned her body because they wanted to keep her two-month-old son as their own.
The infant was later abandoned on a doorstep in LeGrand. Jurors found Ceja guilty of kidnapping, child endangerment, and first degree murder with special circumstances, meaning she could face life without parole.
The jurors reached that conclusion late last week, but the announcement was kept under a gag order until Velarde's fate was decided.
Velarde is scheduled to be sentenced August 16. It is expected that Ceja will be sentenced the same day.
merced, merced county, snelling, legrand, local
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