Two former police officers were acquitted today of charges that they killed a woman who once made news when she claimed her baby had been stolen from her womb.
Jurors deliberated for about six hours Tuesday and today before acquitting Roberto Briseno and Randall Ledbetter on capital murder and lesser murder charges in the 1994 slaying of Laura Lugo.
Prosecutors said Ledbetter paid Briseno to kill Lugo, his mistress, because he believed she was making threatening phone calls to his wife.
The calls actually were being made by Ledbetter's other mistress, Janet Ramirez, the third person accused of Lugo's murder. Ramirez pleaded guilty to murder and testified against the men in exchange for a 20-year sentence.
Ramirez claimed that Ledbetter, a U.S. Border Patrol agent at the time of his arrest, gave Briseno bullets and a partial payment of $1,000 to kill Lugo. Ramirez said she and Briseno lured the victim to a remote area under the pretense of a meeting with Ledbetter, and Briseno shot Lugo in the head.
Lugo disappeared in December 1994, 11 weeks after winning a custody battle for her 2-year-old son, who she said was taken by two women who lured her to a Mexican clinic, drugged her and had a doctor perform a Caesarean section.
Lugo's bullet-riddled and burned remains were found six months after her disappearance.