The mother-daughter duo accused of killing a pregnant Chicago teen before cutting her unborn baby from her womb and claiming it as their own pleaded not guilty Wednesday.
Desiree and Clarisa Figueroa, along with Clarisa Figueroa's boyfriend Piotr Bobak, entered a not guilty plea Wednesday morning in the death of 19-year-old Marlen Ochoa.
"Not only will the state not be able to prove him guilty, he’s innocent," said Bobak's lawyer Hal Garfinkel. "Mr bobak is innocent. Both of us look forward to his day in court."
Ochoa's infant child died weeks after his mother's murder, prompting questions over whether additional charges would be filed. The baby's death was ruled a homicide by the Cook County Medical Examiner, who determined the child died from a lack of oxygen and blood to his brain and cited "maternal assault and demise."
"I want the cook co states attorney and the judge to know if there’s no justice for this family, there will be no peace," said Ochoa's family spokesperson, Julie Contreras.
No announcement on additional charges was made in court Wednesday, however.
Authorities contend 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, she and Ochoa connected on a Facebook page for pregnant women.
Prosecutors alleged the mother-daughter pair lured Ochoa to their home, where they offered to give her clothes and other items for her unborn child. As Desiree Figueroa was showing Ochoa a photo album of her late brother to distract her, Clarisa Figueroa sneaked up behind her and strangled her with a cord before her baby was cut from her womb.
Later that day, Clarisa Figueroa called 911 claiming that her newborn baby was not breathing. When first responders arrived, the child was blue. They tried to resuscitate the infant and took him to Christ Medical Center, where he remained until his death.
Prosecutors said 46-year-old Clarisa Figueroa was examined in a birthing center at Advocate Christ Medical Center on April 23 after claiming to have given birth, "but showed no signs consistent with a woman who had just delivered a baby."
A technician at the Oak Lawn hospital cleaned blood from Figueroa’s arms, face and hands, prosecutors said, but it was unclear if anyone verified that she had actually given birth. Figueroa was allegedly able to pass off the baby as her own for weeks.
An investigation from the Illinois Department of Public Health cleared the hospital in the case, but noted deficiencies in their process.
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said he expects both women will also be charged with murder in the baby's death.