WICHITA, Kan. — A Texas woman who faked a pregnancy for several months was found guilty Tuesday of fatally shooting a former co-worker in Kansas and kidnapping the victim's newborn baby with the intention of raising the child as her own.
A Sedgwick County jury found Yesenia Sesmas guilty of first-degree premeditated and intentional murder, kidnapping and interference with parental custody. Prosecutors said she shot 27-year-old Laura Abarca on Nov. 17, 2016, at Abarca's Wichita apartment and abducted 6-day-old Sophia Gonzales. The baby was found safe less than two days after the abduction at Sesmas' apartment in Dallas and was returned to relatives in Wichita.
According to authorities and evidence at the trial, Sesmas, a 36-year-old Mexican national, faked a pregnancy for months after she lost her unborn child. After finding out Abarca had given birth, Sesmas drove to Wichita and shot her in the head before taking the baby back to Texas. The two women had worked together at a Wichita restaurant years earlier.
The trial centered on Sesmas' intentions when she went to Abarca's apartment, The Wichita Eagle reported .
Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett told jurors during closing arguments Tuesday that after Sesmas had faked a pregnancy, prepared a home for a new baby and had a baby shower, she reached the point where she "was either going to have to come home with a baby" or explain her lies to those who knew her.
"When she walked into that apartment on Nov. 17, 2016, there were only two ways for this to end," Bennett said. Sesmas went back to Texas thinking "she would wake up and raise that baby and her life would begin," he said.
In interviews with investigators and the media, Sesmas has maintained that Abarca had agreed to give her Sophia but rescinded the offer after the girl was born. She said she didn't plan to kill Abarca and took a gun to the apartment only to threaten her into turning over Sophia.
"She didn't know that it (the gun) was going to fire and she was surprised when it did," public defender Jason Smartt said during closing arguments. "She didn't intend to kill Laura."
Jurors deliberated for less than three hours before reaching their verdict.
Sesmas faces life in prison plus the possibility of additional time when she is sentenced on July 13.