FAIRFAX, Va. - A Virginia grandmother was convicted Thursday of first-degree murder and sentenced to 35 years in prison for tossing her 2-year-old granddaughter from a pedestrian bridge at a shopping mall.
Carmela dela Rosa threw Angelyn Ogdoc off a 45-foot-high skywalk like a "piece of trash" at Tysons Corner Center, the state's largest mall, prosecutors said. It happened last November amid the busy holiday shopping season.
Dela Rosa was upset that her son-in-law had gotten her daughter pregnant out of wedlock, prosecutors said. The couple married shortly before Angelyn was born.
"She was an angry, jealous and spiteful woman," Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh said. "There is no victim more innocent than a child, unable to defend herself."
The jury rejected the woman's insanity defense, finding her guilty after a two-week trial and more than five hours of deliberations. She faced a minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life.
Under Virginia law, the judge can lower the sentence, but cannot increase it.
In opting for a first-degree murder conviction, the jury concluded dela Rosa's actions were premeditated. During the trial, jurors saw a videotaped confession dela Rosa gave to detectives in which she admitted she thought about throwing Angelyn off the bridge while she was inside the mall, several minutes before she actually did it.
Dela Rosa's attorneys claimed she did not know right from wrong and had been suffering from severe depression. They said it was so bad in the months before Angelyn's death that she tried several times to commit suicide.
Dela Rosa stared forward blankly as the verdict was read, as she did for most of the trial. While asking for a minimum sentence, public defender Dawn Butorac told jurors that despite dela Rosa's flat demeanor "she does feel extremely remorseful."
Prosecutors said dela Rosa's anger at her son-in-law got worse during the mall outing because he called his wife on a cellphone.
In her confession, dela Rosa told detectives that she saw Angelyn as a way to get back at the son-in-law, James Ogdoc.
In a brief sentencing phase of the trial, dela Rosa's daughter and Angelyn's mother, Mary Kathyln Ogdoc, cried as she described the impact of her daughter's death.
"I don't get to wake up next to her anymore. We can't have breakfast with her anymore," she said.
It hurts to watch other children in her neighborhood boarding a school bus knowing that Angelyn will never get that opportunity, she said.
Dela Rosa's sister, Rebecca Russ, said dela Rosa has lost a lot of weight while incarcerated and at first didn't understand why she was in jail.
"She was begging me to get her out," Russ said.
Butorac argued that dela Rosa was a different woman in her depressive episodes, withdrawn and "afraid of the world" to the point that she regularly refused to leave the house.