For months after her miscarriage, Yesenia Sesmas carried on like before, insisting to friends and family that she still was pregnant.
She readied a nursery at her home in Texas, accepted gifts at a baby shower, and when it came time to show off photos of a child, she shared pictures of a newborn girl born on Nov. 11, 2016.
But the baby wasn’t hers. It belonged to her friend and former co-worker, Laura Abarca, who lived in Kansas.
With pressure mounting to produce an actual infant, Sesmas drove from Dallas to Abarca’s home in Wichita, where she fatally shot her 27-year-old friend in the forehead and stole the child, baby Sophia, before returning to Dallas and presenting the baby as her own.
On Tuesday, jurors convicted the 37-year-old Sesmas of first-degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated interference with parental custody, the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office confirms to PEOPLE.
She faces life in prison without parole for 50 years when she is sentenced on July 13.
After the discovery of the killing and abduction, authorities followed a trail laid out by text messages between the two women to track the infant to Sesmas’ home, according to trial testimony, reports the Wichita Eagle newspaper.
Sesmas previously said her friend had agreed to let her have the baby but then changed her mind. She told authorities she brought the gun to Abarca’s home meaning only to threaten Abarca into upholding her agreement, Dallas-Fort Worth TV station KUVN reported.
Sesmas “didn’t intend to kill Laura,” her public defender, Jason Smartt, said during his closing remarks, the Eagle reports.
The killing was “unplanned and spontaneous,” Smartt said during the trial. “She didn’t know that [the gun] was going to fire, and she was surprised when it did.”
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But District Attorney Marc Bennett countered during his closing statement that after faking her pregnancy, Sesmas “was either going to have to come home with a baby” or confess her lies. “When she walked into that apartment on Nov. 17, 2016, there were only two ways for this to end,” he said.
With baby Sophia in her possession, Sesmas returned to Texas and went to bed thinking “she would wake up and raise that baby and her life would begin,” he said.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Bennett said: “After the verdict, Ms. Abarca’s family expressed relief and can now put all of their collective energy into raising Sophia.”
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Abarca’s brother, Jose Abarca, said, “It felt like we have a big weight off of our shoulders,” according to local TV news station KSN.
“Sometimes we have good days, and sometimes we have bad days, and I always think what would she be doing?” he said of his sister. “Like right now, what would she be doing with Sophia? What would we be doing together?”
In a separate case, Sesmas still is facing charges after she was arrested four months prior to Abarca’s murder for alleged aggravated battery and kidnapping involving an 8-months-pregnant friend.
Alleged victim Adrianna Portillo said in an earlier interview with the Eagle that Sesmas allegedly had confided she was desperate to have a daughter but was unable to get pregnant. Prior to Sesmas’ move to Dallas, Portillo alleged that Sesmas lured her into the basement of her home on the premise of giving away old clothes and a TV. Sesmas then allegedly produced duct tape and a knife and ordered Portillo to bind Portillo’s 3- and 10-year-old daughters, according to Portillo.
Sesmas also allegedly demanded $10,000, Portillo said, but after a physical fight, Portillo and her daughters were able to flee and police were called.
Sesmas has pleaded not guilty in that case. She was briefly jailed and free on bond at the time she murdered Abarca. She is now in Sedgwick County jail, records show.
It was not immediately clear weather Sesmas plans to appeal her recent convictions.