Prosecutors offer plea deal in infant death case
Ryan Summerlin August 1, 2012
AVON – A mother facing felony charges stemming from the death of her infant son has two weeks to decide whether to accept a plea deal or take her chances at trial.
Prosecutors offered Tanya Baca, 30, the chance to plead guilty to manslaughter, a Class 4 felony. If she takes the offer she faces between two and six years in prison.
For now, she’s charged with child abuse resulting in death. If she takes her chances with a jury trial and is convicted, she faces a 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentence, and up to 32 years.
“The indications we have is that she was drunk, tripped and landed on the baby,” said District Attorney Mark Hurlbert. “Given those facts, we thought a 10-year minimum sentence in the department of corrections was inappropriate.”
Baca made her first appearance in District Court Wednesday morning, before District Court Judge R. Thomas Moorhead.
“She needs more time to consider it, between two weeks and a month,” said Reed Owens, her public defender.
Moorhead set her next court appearance for 9 a.m., Aug. 15, when she and Owens will either announce plea agreement or schedule a trial date.
Baca, 30, an Avon resident, was arrested and jailed on charges of domestic violence, third degree assault and child abuse causing death, said Avon Police Lt. Greg Daly.
About a half-hour after midnight on the night of the incident, Avon police responded to the Vail Valley Medical Center to investigate injuries to a 3-month old Avon boy.
The child was air-lifted from Vail to Children’s Hospital in Aurora where medical personnel continued to try to save him, Daly said.
“After advanced medical attempts to save the child, the child died,” Daly said.
Avon Police detectives continue to investigate this incident, in conjunction with the Eagle County coroner’s office and the Eagle County Health and Human Services department.
Baca declined to go through a preliminary hearing last month in Eagle County Court, before Judge Katharine Sullivan.
Defendants can waive their right to a preliminary hearing and go straight to District Court, as Baca did.
Law enforcement officials are under court orders not to release information about the case, said Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis.
Baca remains in custody in the Eagle County jail on a $50,000 cash bond, or $500,000 surety bond.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.