Prosecutors seek death penalty against Tucson mom in killing of kids

2012-11-27T17:00:00Z 2012-11-28T07:37:52Z Prosecutors seek death penalty against Tucson mom in killing of kidsKim Smith, Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A Tucson woman accused of shooting her children to death in August could be executed if she’s found guilty at trial.

The Pima County Attorney’s Office filed a court document last week announcing its intention to seek the death penalty for Perla Morales, 26.

The document, which became available Tuesday, states prosecutors are seeking the death penalty because there were multiple victims and both were under the age of 15.

Morales told police she shot 17-month-old Richard Rosovich Jr. and 4-year-old Emma Rosovich multiple times after her boyfriend, Richard Rosovich Sr., threatened to leave her Aug. 11, court documents say.

Morales called 911 and told the dispatcher she needed an ambulance because her children were dead, and hung up. When the dispatcher called back, Morales told the dispatcher she had shot her kids and cut her wrists, court documents state.

Richard was pronounced dead at the home near West Valencia Road and Interstate 19, and Emma died at the hospital an hour after the 911 call.

Forensic pathologist Jennifer Gardetto performed the autopsies on both children. She noted Emma was shot three times in the torso and one of the shots was fired close enough that soot was found around the wound. Richard was twice in the torso and once in the left arm. Again, one of the shots was fired close enough to leave soot.

Assistant Pima County Public Defender Dawn Priestman provided a packet of mitigating evidence to the county attorney’s office in the hopes prosecutors would not pursue the death penalty. That mitigating evidence is sealed.

Morales and Emma’s father, Javier Mejia Jr., were in a custody battle at the time of the girl’s death, court records indicate.

Mejia met his daughter for the first time on June 8. He also saw her June 15, but Morales canceled the next two meetings.

On June 29, Pima County Superior Court Judge Terry Chandler gave Mejia permission to see Emma four hours a week and ordered Morales and Mejia to complete a parenting class.

Emma and Richard died nine days before Chandler was to meet with Morales and Mejia again on the issue of child support.

Morales is due in court Dec. 17. Her trial will be scheduled at that time.

Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or kimsmith@azstarnet.com

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