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Woman Convicted in Murder of Pregnant Mother Kills Self

From Associated Press

A woman convicted three days ago of killing a mother and unborn child committed suicide early Saturday in her one-person jail cell, saying the humiliation was too much to stand.

Josefina Sonia Saldana hanged herself with a sheet and left two messages written in lipstick on her cell wall: “Fresno, may God forgive you” and “babies, I am not a murderer. I love you,” said Fresno County Sheriff Richard Pierce.

Saldana was convicted Thursday of kidnapping and two counts of murder. Prosecutors said she killed Margarita Flores and scattered her dismembered body in Southern California and Mexico in September 1998.

Saldana was not on suicide watch at the Fresno County Detention Center, but she was checked often. She left five letters written to various people, including jail staff members, whom she thanked for humane treatment. “I leave with no pending sins except the taking of my own life,” she wrote. “This humiliation is more than my brain can stand.”

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Saldana, 43, said she made a deal to buy the baby from Flores. She testified that Flores induced her own labor, had a stillbirth and died after they parted. Prosecutors accused Saldana of trying to steal the baby from Flores’ womb.

Flores, 40, a mother of five, was more than eight months pregnant when she was last seen alive leaving her home Sept. 14, 1998, with a woman posing as a charity worker. Flores was allegedly lured from her home with the promise of free baby furniture and diapers.

Saldana, a Spanish-language interpreter, was arrested a few days later when police learned she had brought a dead fetus to a hospital. She said the baby was hers, but tests revealed she had not been pregnant.

Saldana was scheduled for sentencing April 19. She would have faced life in prison without a chance of parole.

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