Slaying trial set to begin after multiple delays

PNT Staff Report

After multiple delays, the jury trial of a Portales man accused of killing a 19-year-old Portales woman in 2004 is set to begin Monday in Roosevelt County District Court.

Richard Baca, 20, of Portales is accused of first-degree murder in the death of Amber Robinson of Portales. He is also charged with two counts of tampering with evidence for allegedly burying Robinson’s body and burning items with her blood on them.

Portales Police have said they believe Robinson died on April 27, 2004.
She was reported missing by her family the day before. Police discovered her body on May 7, 2004, buried in the back yard of a residence where Baca and his older brother, Clifford Baca, lived.
Clifford Baca pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and tampering with evidence last March, and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

According to 9th Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler, who is prosecuting the case, the trial is scheduled to last five days, with jury selection beginning Monday morning and opening statements likely late Monday.

Chandler said he’ll call a variety of lay witnesses, as well as crime scene investigators from the New Mexico State Police, Portales Police Department officers and medical doctors.

“The state has prepared for this case for approximately two and a half years, and we’re ready to bring a resolution to this case to the family of Amber Robinson,” Chandler said.

Chandler wouldn’t comment about the delays in the case.

Baca switched attorneys in 2005 after backing out of a plea agreement in May 2005, claiming he wasn’t being fairly represented in the case.
A competency hearing as well as another change of attorney for Baca contributed to the delay. Baca’s second attorney was appointed to a judge’s post.

Attempts to contact his current attorney, Anna Aragon of Las Vegas, N.M., were unsuccessful.