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Chicago woman gets 30 years for helping mother kill pregnant teen who had child cut from her womb

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CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago woman who pleaded guilty to helping her mother kill a pregnant teenager in 2019 before the baby was cut from her womb with a butcher knife was sentenced Thursday to 30 years in prison.

Desiree Figueroa, 29, had pleaded guilty to murder in January for helping her mother, Clarisa Figueroa, in the attack that killed 19-year-old Marlen Ochoa-Lopez. She had agreed to testify against her mother, who was sentenced in April after also pleading guilty to murder.

“I can never apologize enough for what I did,” Desiree Figueroa said before a Cook County judge sentenced her, WGN-TV reported.

Prosecutors have said Clarisa Figueroa strangled Ochoa-Lopez with a cable on April 23, 2019, after luring the teen to her home with the promise of free clothing for her unborn child. Ochoa-Lopez was nine months pregnant. Clarisa Figueroa then called 911, saying she had given birth and that the child was not breathing.

The child died about two months later.

Desiree Figueroa told police she had pried Ochoa-Lopez’s fingers off the cable as the teen struggled, and then brought her mother a knife to cut open Ochoa-Lopez’s abdomen to remove the baby, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Her plea agreement with prosecutors had called for the 30-year sentence.

Authorities said that not long after Clarisa Figueroa’s adult son died of natural causes, she told her family she was pregnant. They say she plotted for months to acquire a newborn, and that she posted an ultrasound and photos of a room decorated for a baby on her Facebook page. In March 2019, she and Ochoa-Lopez connected on a Facebook page for pregnant women

Detectives investigating Ochoa-Lopez’s disappearance learned that she had gone to Clarisa Figueroa’s home. Two weeks after her disappearance, police found her car parked nearby and were told by Desiree Figueroa that her mother recently had given birth.

DNA tests later determined the child was not Clarisa Figueroa’s.

Ochoa-Lopez’s body was found in a garbage can outside the Figueroa home.

Yovany Lopez, who was married to Ochoa-Lopez and was the baby's father, said in a statement that he could not stand to be in the courtroom with Desiree Figueroa during her sentencing.

“I cannot bear to be in the courtroom, where I will have to share the same air with the monster that strangled my wife, while her mother ripped my baby son out of her body,” he said in his statement.