Couple Convicted of Murdering Young Daughter in Alleged Exorcism
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) _ A husband and wife were found guilty Monday of murdering their 5-year-old daughter during what prosecutors depicted as an attempted exorcism in 1978.
A jury convicted Marcos Morales, 56, of first-degree murder in the death of his daughter, Lisa. His wife, Beatriz, 47, was found guilty of second-degree murder.
Another daughter, Monica McLellan, 20, who had testified against her parents, cried as the verdicts were read in Orange County Superior Court.
During the trial, Deputy District Attorney Lew Rosenblum said the couple began to believe Lisa was possessed by demons after she pushed one of her sisters down a flight of stairs.
″They constantly referred to her as the evil one, the devil,″ he said.
She was kept naked and unwashed in a bathroom, the prosecutor said. At times, witnesses spotted bruises and cigarette burns on her.
The couple’s oldest daughter, Beatriz Morales Quintero, 23, testified she heard screaming in the bathroom the November night that Lisa died, apparently drowning in the tub.
″Dad (was) yelling, and then after that I heard my mother yelling, and then I heard it being quiet,″ she said.
Ms. Quintero also offered testimony prosecutors said supported their contention that Lisa’s body was disposed of on a beach near Tijuana, Mexico. The body was never found.
″My mom, she was saying we were going to go somewhere, and she gave us little gifts because we were scared. ... When we got in the car ... there was this bag by my feet. ... It felt like a body.″
Despite earlier claims that Lisa had been privately adopted, Mrs. Morales’ attorney conceded that Lisa died at home. But he has argued that there is no evidence of a murder or who did it.
Her husband’s attorney also argued that there is no evidence of a death.