Man pleads no contest to second-degree murder
After spending nearly five years incarcerated in the Valencia County Detention Center accused of shooting and killing 56-year-old Joseph Montoya, Edward Jude Baca has pleaded no contest to second-degree murder.
Baca entered his new plea earlier this month in front of District Court Judge William Sanchez. Baca, who was initially charged with first-degree murder, will serve a mandatory one-year sentence in prison on a firearm enhancement count.
Thirteenth Judicial District Attorney Lemuel Martinez said Baca is facing one to 16 years in state custody. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after a pre-sentence report his completed.
Baca shot and killed Montoya on Oct. 25, 2008, after going to a house in Casa Colorada to confront his girlfriend and the victim, according to New Mexico State Police. Baca, 44 at the time, reportedly got into a verbal confrontation with the victim and shot him in the abdomen.
When law enforcement was alerted about the shooting, they were told Baca had fled the scene toward Rio Communities. State police officers in the area at the time were able to stop and apprehend Baca.
When asked why there was such a long delay in prosecuting Baca, Martinez said there were competency issues brought out during the past five years.
"We found out that he had a history of strokes and brain damage," Martinez said. "First-degree murder is a specific-intent crime, so we pleaded him to second-degree murder."
-- Email the author at email@example.com.