Yesenia Sesmas was found guilty of killing Laura Abarca and kidnapping her 6-day-old daughter Sophia. The trial lasted six days.
Abarca was killed at a west Wichita apartment in November 2016. Her baby was taken by Sesmas.
Sesmas and the baby were found two days later at a Dallas home. The child was not injured and was returned to relatives in Wichita.
KSN talked to Abarca’s family after the jury found Sesmas guilty of first-degree premeditated and intentional murder, kidnapping, and interference with parental custody. They wanted to thank officers for finding and bringing back baby Sophia.
“All the people who were involved in this case, thank you for returning my granddaughter. Even tough I can’t have my daughter back, I thank them for returning my granddaughter safe,” said Guadalupe Nogueda del Rio and Jose Abarca outside of court.
District Attorney Marc Bennett said it has been a long battle, but he says justice takes time and effort.
“I guess the jury spoke. Very pleased with the verdict, of course, it’s a difficult case. We showed some very ugly photographs.”
Sesmas will be sentenced July 13. She faces up to 50 years in prison.
Since last week, the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s office has been trying to convince jurors that Yesenia Sesmas premeditated the murder of Laura Abarca.
In closing statements, the defense agreed that Abarca was killed but left open the door for questions about premeditiation.
“The evidence so far has shown Laura Abarca was found in her apartment deceased,” said Sesmas defense attorney Jason Smartt. “She was alone. She died from a gunshot injury.”
Smartt focused on a specific jury instruction. Instruction number seven talked about premeditation and Smartt asked the jury if the state proved premeditation.
“To establish the charge of premeditated intentional first-degree murder they have to prove that Ms. Sesmas intentionally killed Laura Abarca,” said Smartt.
But District Attorney Marc Bennett told the jury in closing that Yesenia Sesmas thought ahead of time about not only taking Abarca’s baby but also killing.
“What the defendant asks Laura is, do you have security here? Interesting questions to ask somebody the day before you’re going to come back and pull the trigger and kill them,” said Bennett to the jury. “Sound like she’s premeditating it? Sound like she’s thinking over beforehand?”
The judge gave the jury the option to consider premeditated first-degree murder. He also said they could consider a lesser charges of second-degree murder. A third option is a lesser charge of second-degree not intentional but still reckless murder. A final option the jury can consider is involuntary manslaughter.
There are some other counts to consider including kidnapping of the baby and interference with parental custody.
The jury started deliberations around 1 p.m. Tuesday.