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'Every single day': Judge tells woman to remember destroying family of pregnant teen she killed, then hands down 50-year sentence

Madeline Buckley, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Women

CHICAGO — With the five-year anniversary of the slaying of 19-year-old Marlen Ochoa-Lopez looming, the woman accused of killing the teen and cutting her baby out of the womb in a sensational case that drew international attention was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Clarisa Figueroa, 51, entered a guilty plea on charges of first-degree murder Tuesday. She had been charged with murder, kidnapping, dismembering a human body and other felonies in the April 2019 killing of Ochoa-Lopez, who was nine months pregnant.

She appeared in court at the Leighton Criminal Court Building sitting in a wheelchair, while family members of Ochoa-Lopez lined the front row of the gallery carrying a photograph of Marlen’s young family.

“They … live every single day with the actions that you put into motion on April 23, 2019,” Judge Peggy Chiampas said after she accepted the guilty plea. “Every single day, I want you to think of those individuals. Every single day.”

Figueroa strangled the teen with a cable, slicing open her abdomen from side to side, removing the baby from the womb and placing him inside a bucket, prosecutors said. The baby, Yovanny Jadiel Lopez, died months later.

“The memory of my infant son’s last breath in my arms is complete agony,” wrote Marlen’s husband Yovanny Lopez in a statement read to the court by an advocate.

 

Lopez and his family wore shirts that displayed a photograph of a sunflower field, which he said was Marlen’s favorite flower.

In his victim impact statement, he said his other son, Joshua, “has lost his mother forever.”

“The death of my wife Marlen in this matter has hurt me physically, scarred me emotionally for which I will never recover,” he said the a statement.

After the hearing, Pastor Julie Contreras, a family friend, said she was with Lopez when he held his son at the hospital.

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