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Ana Maria Cardona, 56, is on trial for the third time in the death of her toddler son, who was found dead in 1990. Cardona's two previous death sentences were overturned due to errors by prosecutors. (Photo: Courtesy of Miami-Dade County Corrections)

The mother who was twice convicted and sentenced to die for the abuse and murder of her toddler in 1990 is now on trial for a third time, after both earlier outcomes were overturned because of errors by prosecutors.

Ana Maria Cardona, the mother of the boy originally known to authorities as “Baby Lollipops,” faces a life sentence this time around, if convicted.

Opening statements began Monday, and on the second day of the trial neighbors testified they saw Cardona punching her son before he died.

But much of the testimony should be familiar to those who followed the case of a then-unknown toddler whose damaged body was found in bushes outside a Miami Beach home on Nov. 2, 1990. Known at first only by the design on his dirty shirt, “Baby Lollipops” was identified as Lazaro Figueroa—and connected back to his mother, Cardona, within a month, based on tips.

Cardona was first convicted and sentenced to die in 1992, on charges of murder and aggravated child abuse based on the condition of the body of her son.

Cardona’s first conviction was tossed in 2002, because the Florida Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors had committed a Brady violation in failing to give defense attorneys access to interviews with Cardona’s companion and codefendant, Olivia Gonzalez. (Gonzalez served almost 20 years in prison on a second-degree murder charge, but was released nearly a decade ago.)

At the retrial in 2010, Cardona was nonetheless found guilty of the two counts again and was again sentenced to die. During that trial, prosecutors focused on the condition of the 3-year-old boy; he weighed just 18 pounds, his body was covered in scars, bruises and bedsores, and it was blunt-force trauma to his head that had caused the fatal brain injury. The defense argued Figueroa was not in the care of his mother for months before his death.

In closing arguments, prosecutors made reference repeatedly to “justice for Lazaro” and dismissed the defense arguments as “diversionary tactics.” The defense objected to what prosecutors were saying 58 times—and were overruled 54 times, according to court documents.

“There were 47 injuries that he was able to identify on this kid,” said the prosecutor at one point. “Remember this trial, we who labor seek only the truth. This trial is about justice for Lazaro.”

“Objection,” said the defense attorney, “Inflames the jurors’ passion and misstatement of the law.”

“Overruled,” said the judge.

The penalty phase resulted in a bare-majority vote of seven to five in favor of the death penalty.

But last year, the Florida Supreme Court again stepped in and overturned Cardona’s conviction and death sentence—based in large part on those objections lodged by the defense counsel at the end of the trial.

“The State’s burden is to prove the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt,” the judge ruled. “When the State instead uses closing argument to appeal to the jury’s sense of outrage at what happened to the victim and asks the jurors to return a verdict that brings ‘justice’ to the victim, the State perverts the purpose of closing argument and engages in the very type of argument that has been repeatedly condemned as antithetical to the foundation of our criminal justice system that guarantees a fair trial to every accused.”

Cardona was also entitled to an IQ test to determine whether she is intellectually disabled, the Sunshine State’s highest court ruled in that same decision.

The trial is expected to continue through next week, according to local media.

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