By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
Footprints found on the shallow grave of a Portales teen match the boots the defendant in her murder trial was known to wear, according to a state crime lab expert’s testimony Tuesday at the Roosevelt County Courthouse.
The second day of Richard Baca’s homicide trial was dominated in the morning by the replay of a taped interview investigators conducted with the defendant the day the body was being uncovered in the back yard of his family’s home.
In the late morning, and throughout the afternoon, the prosecution called various forensic witnesses to the stand.
Baca, 20, of Portales, is accused of killing 19-year-old Amber Robinson of Portales and burying her in the back yard of his family’s home in May 2004.
Shirley Garcia of the Department of Public Safety Crime Lab in Santa Fe testified casts of footprints police say they lifted from the loose earth where Robinson’s body was found matched a size-9 pair of black combat-like boots police found in a closet in the Baca home. Witnesses said Baca regularly wore the boots.
Kevin Massis, an agent with the state police crime scene team, gave extensive testimony during the day on the blood spatter evidence investigators found in the Baca house, focusing on the kitchen.
“I found two areas inside the kitchen consistent with blunt force trauma,” Massis said.
In opening statements, the prosecution told the jury the state would prove Robinson was beaten unconscious and buried alive.
Massis told the court using a technique called stringing the blood stains he put the origin of the two sources of blood spatter at 5 feet, 6 inches high and 22 inches high in different parts of the room, meaning one of those blows came while the victim was standing in the kitchen, he said.
His testimony is in conflict with Baca’s statements to police that he struck Robinson once in the hall and she hit her head on a computer desk as she fell, according to the interview transcript. Baca said he dragged her into the kitchen where she bled on the kitchen floor, according to the interview transcript.
Richard Baca faces a possible sentence of 30 years in prison for the first-degree murder charge.
The prosecution’s case is expected to resume this morning.
Clifford “Bubba” Baca, Richard Baca’s older brother, was sentenced to 18 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and tampering with evidence in March of 2006.
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Highlights of testimony from the second day of Richard Baca’s homicide trial
Tuesday at the Roosevelt County Courthouse.
• District Attorney’s Office investigator David Loera testified about a taped interview he conducted with Richard Baca the day the body of Amber Robinson was being
uncovered in his back yard.
The jury was played the audio before Loera took the stand.
Loera said Baca kept coming back to remarks Robinson had been making to him about him being a “minute man” (slang for premature ejaculation) and not being able to satisfy a woman. The defendant told investigators the remarks were
making him madder and madder.
Baca said a comment Robinson made under her breath as she walked past him just outside the bathroom caused him to become angry and hit her, Loera said.
Loera also said Baca admitted he buried Robinson and attempted to clean up blood in the house with rags and a mop, which he later burned in the
fireplace of the home.
• A DNA expert who examined samples sent by investigators in the case testified that nine of the samples she received had a probability of trillions to one of being a match for the DNA of Robinson.
“She kept saying it all night, laughing about it. Kept telling me I couldn’t satisfy a girl. I was a minute man. I couldn’t do anything right.”
— Richard Baca
In taped interview with investigators
“The kitchen was dirty, and I could tell some areas had been
attempted to be cleaned.”
— Kevin Massis
State police crime scene investigator