Slaying suspect may make deal

Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — Prosecutors say a plea agreement may be reached before a Portales teen goes on trial Monday for murder.

Richard Baca, 19, of Portales, is accused of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence. His trial is set to begin at 9 a.m. before Ninth Judicial Court Judge Steven Quinn, but Ninth District Attorney Matt Chandler said a plea agreement is in the works.

If the agreement falls through, Chandler said his office will be ready to proceed with the case as needed.

Baca and his brother, Clifford Baca, face charges in connection to the April 2004 death of Amber Robinson. Clifford Baca, 20, faces charges of first-degree murder, tampering with evidence and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The tampering of evidence charge stems from a police allegation that Robinson’s body was buried in the back yard of the Baca’s residence.

Chandler said the two trials will be treated separately, and Clifford Baca’s trial is scheduled for December.

An aunt of Richard and Clifford Baca, Betty Baca, contends Robinson was killed as a result of a beating from three other girls and that her nephews are “easy targets” for the prosecution.

“If it was up to (prosecutors), they would have tried those kids the minute they arrested them,” Betty Baca said. “If I hadn’t hired that investigator … they would have been locked up.”

Baca hired a private investigator, Fred St. John of Albuquerque, shortly after the two were arrested.

“There’s a possibility (Betty Baca is right),” St. John said when contacted via telephone Friday. “I can tell you that during my investigation, it was looking that way.”

Betty Baca said she has not been able to pay St. John’s contract, and St. John would not release details of an incomplete investigation.