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Associated Press

Woman hired hit squad to murder baby

Associated Press, various newspapers in Canada and the U.S.A., May 07, 2007

CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- A woman was convicted today of hiring a hit squad to murder her lover's baby, ending a trial that had dominated headlines for months with details of South Africa's first known contract killing of an infant.

Dina Rodrigues was found guilty of murder for orchestrating the June 2005 killing of six-month-old Jordan-Leigh Norton her then-boyfriend's child from a previous relationship.

Cheers erupted as the verdict was read in the packed Cape Town court room, where Norton family supporters wore pink in sympathy with the child victim. Jordan's body, clad in pink clothing, was found in a drain in Pretoria.

"We are glad for the decision," the baby's grandfather, Vernon Norton, told the South African Press Association, adding that the family hoped Rodrigues will be sentenced to life in prison at the next hearing in June.

The case has riveted people in South Africa where an estimated 1,100 children are killed each year in part because both the baby and Rodrigues were white and from privileged backgrounds, whereas most cases involving violence against children involve black and underprivileged defendants and victims.

High Court Judge Basheer Waglay also convicted four men of murder and robbery in the case.

The four men had been hired by Rodrigues for a total of 10,000 rands (C$1,600)) to commit the crime, and posed as delivery men to gain access to the home of baby Jordan's grandparents, prosecutors said.

They stabbed the infant in the neck, and tried to make the murder look like a botched robbery, prosecutors said.

Rodrigues lawyer argued that it had been an attempted kidnapping gone wrong.

The judge rejected the argument, noting testimony from the baby's father, Neil Wilson, that Rodrigues had phoned him to tell him she got rid of the baby.

Cases such as Jordan's have led to a recent campaigns drawing attention to the problem of violence against children in South Africa, a country of 43 million people.

The newly formed Protect Our Children campaign donated 200 teddy bears Monday to a Pretoria police station to be given to young victims.

Last week, the Solidarity trade union collected Read More .. than 1,100 bears to mark the annual number of child murders in South Africa after the body of an 8-year-old girl was found in a city sewer.