Candidate arraigned on battery charges

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By Carol A. Clark

Manuel “Manny” Baca was arraigned this morning in Los Alamos Magistrate Court on charges related to an incident involving Baca’s 21-year-old son that occurred at their  home at 138 Aragon Oct. 4.  

Baca, 45, was arrested and charged with two counts including aggravated assault on a family member with a deadly weapon and battery on a household member.

During this morning’s arraignment, Magistrate Judge Pat Casados read the former county council candidate his rights, instructed him in the maximum penalties he faces if convicted and detailed the court process to come on his case.

“I will turn all of the documents in this case over to the district attorney and she will have 60 days to decide what she’s going to do about it. At the preliminary hearing all the district attorney has to do is prove two things, A – that a crime was committed and, B – that crime was committed by you,” Casados told Baca.

Baca informed Casados that his firearms are at a friend’s house and that his son is staying with his girlfriend after the judge told him his $5,500 surety bond could be revoked if he violates any of her orders. Those orders include staying away from the alleged victim and any potential witnesses, not consuming alcohol and not possessing any firearms.

Baca was ordered to attend a status hearing at 2:30 p.m., Nov. 10, so Casados can determine if he’s retained an attorney.

Baca intends to retain a public defender, he said, because he is currently

unemployed. He is finalizing the closure of the medical practice he shared with his former wife Kate, he said. The couple has recently divorced and she is moving to Oregon Friday, Baca said.

Casados explained the charge of aggravated assault on a family member with a deadly weapon is a fourth degree felony.

If convicted, Baca could receive a maximum sentence of 18 months in jail and or a $5,000 fine, Casados said.

Battery on a household member is a misdemeanor offense with a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail and or a $1,000 fine.

Also, if convicted, Baca will be required to complete a 52-week domestic violence program, Casados said.

Baca ran unsuccessfully for county council in 2008. A few weeks later he applied for a vacant council seat created by Jim West who resigned for health reasons. Council members appointed Ralph Phelps to fill that vacancy.

Four council seats are up for election in 2010 and Baca has announced he is running for one of those seats.

“I’m working on moving forward with my life and trying to get a lot of bad stuff behind me including this incident,” Baca said during an interview this morning. “My platform for my county council campaign is youth and working families. I will have a campaign Web site soon and in the mean time people can contact me by e-mail at manuelbaca1@msn.com.