Tiburcio Losano Santana, 42, will spend the rest of his life behind bars after jurors convicted him on 10 out of 12 charges Thursday, including malice murder, three counts of felony murder and feticide.
Superior Court Judge David K. Smith sentenced Santana to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2015 murder of Yolanda Cruz Marichon. Marichon, 36, was eight weeks pregnant at the time of her slaying.
Jurors also found Santana guilty on two counts of aggravated assault, one count of theft by taking and one count of battery. They found him not guilty, however, of one count of burglary in the first degree and one count of felony murder predicated on the commission of burglary in the first degree.
"It was a very emotional trial and we're very pleased with the jury's hard work and the outcome in this case, and we certainly hope justice was served for Mrs. Marichon — her family has been through a lot over the past few years with this," said Cherokee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Rosemary Greene. "We hope this brings closure."
She said Santana has been detained since June 2015. It's the second time the case has been tried.
"Mr. Santana was convicted of this case in November of 2016," Greene said. "There was an error during the charge of the court and a new trial was granted."
About a dozen witnesses took the stand during the trial, which began Monday morning. Dr. Sandra Parrish Thomas, a medical examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), said Marichon's cause of death was due to "multiple sharp force injuries."
One stab wound to the victim's neck, she said, was three and a half inches deep and hit Marichon's vertebrae.
Another stab wound to her head was three inches deep. "This one actually goes all the way through the skull," she said during her testimony, "and it goes into a part of the brain."
Karen Williams, a forensic biologist for the GBI, said blood samples taken from a pocket knife in Santana's possession matched Marichon's DNA.
Praxedis Chavez, who lived with Marichon, discovered her body in their mobile home at 278 Mac Johnson Road in Cartersville in the early hours of June 18, 2015. Once police arrived, investigators spotted a trail of blood leading to Santana's trailer next door.
He was discovered passed out on a bed, with a bloody shirt wrapped around his severely lacerated right hand.
Bartow County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Jonathan Rogers recalled seeing Santana at the hospital shortly after he was arrested.
"He smelled like an alcoholic beverage," Rogers said, "like he'd been drinking prior."
Santana's attorney, David Marshall, argued that Santana had been attacked by the "real" perpetrator of the crime, who fled the scene after slashing his client's hand.
Marshall also suggested that Santana was not "properly" informed of his Miranda rights and that Marichon's purse was "planted" in his residence.
"The evidence against my client has been poisoned," he advised jurors during his closing argument. "Don't eat it."
During her concluding remarks, Greene brought up Santana admitting that he lied to a paramedic about the cause of his injuries and cited several inconsistencies in his testimony.
"She was naked and alone," Greene said. "And she died a horrible death at his hands."
According to a 2006 legal document, Santana, who is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, was to be deported in 2005. However, a senior U.S. district judge representing the Eastern District of Washington ruled that those deportation proceedings "did not comport with due process" and that Santana "was prejudiced by the defects in his deportation proceeding because he was not advised he may have been eligible for 'fast-track' voluntary departure."
Marshall said he plans to appeal Thursday's decision and will make a motion for a new trial for Santana.