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MILWAUKEE — A woman accused of killing a pregnant Milwaukee woman and trying to steal her full-term fetus never meant for the mother or her unborn child to die, a defense attorney told jurors Tuesday.

Public defender Debra Patterson acknowledged that evidence shows her client, 34-year-old Annette Morales-Rodriguez (pictured), sought out a young woman in the late stages of pregnancy and used a blade to slice out the fetus. But Patterson said the key legal question was whether Morales-Rodriguez intended to kill 23-year-old Maritza Ramirez-Cruz or her unborn son.

“We submit to you that Annette engaged in criminally reckless conduct, but she did not intend to kill Maritza,” Patterson said in opening statements.

Morales-Rodriguez has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, including homicide of an unborn child. A conviction on either count carries a mandatory life sentence, although a judge could allow for the possibility of parole. Wisconsin does not have the death penalty.

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