(Justin Willis Reporting)
A North Valley couple is accused of murdering a Planada woman and kidnapping her 2-month-old son.
Prosecutors say the couple was obsessed with having a child.
Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse began outlining the fateful events of December 2010.
Jose Augustine Velarde and Maria Ceja Robles are charged with murder, kidnapping and child endangerment.
Morse told jurors it all began with the couple's desire to have a son together. "The evidence will show this obsession with a male child ultimately led the two of them to carefully plan the murder of Ana DeCeja and the kidnapping of her infant son, Anthony," said Morse.
Morse claims the couple told people they were pregnant, and went as far as taking a pregnancy photo, even using sonograms, suggesting a plan may have been in place to steal or buy a baby.
The DA then described how Ana was killed inside the suspect's home. "He attacks Ana, knocking her to the ground where he begins strangling her," said Morse.
Morse says the evidence will also link the defendants directly to the orchard where Ana's remains were found. "Velarde lifts Ana's body out of the trunk, deposits her remains on the ground and proceeds to pour gasoline all over the body," said Morse.
It was hard for Ana's husband, Luis DeCeja to hear and even harder to see the photo of his wife's remains.
Luis says he wants justice and that it's very difficult to talk about what happened to his wife; painful to even think about it.
Velarde's attorney, Sean Howard, kept his opening statement brief, saying his client is innocent. "You will not be able to say for sure which person is responsible for her untimely death," said Velarde.
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